UNSW Sydney researchers have secured more than $16 million in the latest round of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Ideas Grant scheme funding.
Developing a world-first alcohol market monitoring system, using CCTV to understand and respond to behaviours prior to a suicide attempt, and investigating the role of salt in obesity development are just a few of the innovative UNSW research projects to receive grants.
The Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler, announced $264 million to support 258 projects funded through the NHMRC Ideas Grant scheme. The scheme supports innovative research projects addressing a specific question and provides opportunities for early and mid-career researchers in particular.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research & Enterprise, Professor Nicholas Fisk congratulated the UNSW researchers on their success.
“We’re very proud of all these UNSW researchers awarded NHMRC funding and wish them well in leading their teams in achieving their research project aims.”
“Their research ranges from developing new approaches for reducing deaths of despair, investigating the role of pregnancy and early life virome in chronic childhood diseases, through to developing new approaches to treating genetic disorders,” Prof. Fisk said.
Professor Merlin Crossley and Associate Professor Kate Quinlan at UNSW Science have received $1,508,780 for a five-year project that will investigate new approaches to treating hemoglobinopathies. Hemoglobinopathies, such as Sickle Cell Anemia, are among the world’s most prevalent genetic disorders. They are particularly common in Africa and in the populations of African descent in America. Current treatments are limited so these lifelong conditions can be severely debilitating. This project seeks to use CRISPR-gene editing to boost hemoglobin production to cure the disorder via gene therapy. It will then go on to investigate the molecular pathways that naturally control hemoglobin production with a view to identifying checkpoints that can be pharmaceutically targeted to upregulate hemoglobin output. Pharmaceutical agents will be critical in areas of the world where gene therapy is not available.
Dr Ki Wook Kim from UNSW Medicine & Health has received $1,441,627. Dr Kim’s project will investigate the role of pregnancy and early life virome (the collection of viruses in and on the human body), to determine whether it is an important risk factor for chronic childhood diseases such as Type 1 diabetes, coeliac, allergies, chronic inflammation and cystic fibrosis. This will characterise the longitudinal virome in women during pregnancy and children from birth to early childhood, using an internationally unique collection of pregnancy, infancy and early childhood samples prospectively collected across multiple controlled/curated domestic and international study cohorts.
Dr Natasa Gisev at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) and UNSW Medicine & Health has received $1,027,327 to conduct an innovative project to understand and address ‘deaths of despair’ (deaths due to alcohol, other substances, and suicide). These deaths, which are rising in Australia and globally, are avoidable given timely and targeted intervention. The project will offer new perspectives on the social and structural determinants and risk factors of these deaths, and will examine contact with health care, justice, and social service systems to identify critical points of intervention. By using novel techniques to model the impact of potential interventions to prevent ‘deaths of despair’, this project aims to inform the development of targeted prevention strategies and policies.
The other UNSW recipients are:
Professor Nicodemus Tedla at UNSW Medicine & Health has received $989,098 for ‘Development of new treatment options for post-sepsis acute lung injury.’
Professor Susan Clark at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and UNSW Medicine & Health has received $961,787 for ‘Functional impact of CTCF binding site mutations in 3D cancer genome regulation’.
Associate Professor Carsten Schmitz-Peiffer at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and UNSW Medicine & Health has received $961,576 for ‘Targeting Impaired Glucose Sensing in the Brain to Improve Glucose Homeostasis in T2D’.
Dr Tanya Applegate at the Kirby Institute and UNSW Medicine & Health has received $956,774 for ‘A novel molecular test to determine if a pathogen is alive or dead - a tool to transform infectious disease management and reduce the threat of antimicrobial resistance’.
Associate Professor Christine Chaffer at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and UNSW Medicine & Health has received $929,996 for ‘Targeting phenotypic plasticity to treat chemotherapy-resistant cancer’.
Dr Yanchuan Shi at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and UNSW Medicine & Health has received $ 860,943 for ‘The Role of Salt in Obesity Development’.
Dr Mark Larsen at The Black Dog Institute and UNSW Medicine & Health has received $839,422 for ‘Interrupting suicides in public places: Using CCTV to understand, detect, and respond to behaviours prior to a suicide attempt’.
Dr Jesse Goyette at UNSW Medicine & Health has received $834,168 for ‘Modulators of T cell signaling: mechanism of pathogen virulence factors and design of synthetic immunomodulatory constructs’.
Associate Professor Carsten Schmitz-Peiffer at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and UNSW Medicine & Health has received $825,490 for ‘Developing PKCepsilon-Degrading PROTACs as Dual-Action Agents to Treat Type 2 Diabetes’.
Professor Simone Pettigrew at The George Institute for Global Health and UNSW Medicine & Health has received $790,147 for ‘Developing and applying a world-first alcohol market monitoring system’.
Associate Professor David Croucher at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and UNSW Medicine & Health has received $775,663 for ‘Targeting metastatic pancreatic cancer via selective inhibition of oncogenic JNK’.
Associate Professor Holly Seale at UNSW Medicine & Health has received $589,259 for ‘Community driven communication and engagement during health crisis periods: co-designing enhanced and transferable strategies’.
Dr Brooke Pereira at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and UNSW Medicine & Health has received $532,570 for ‘Repurposing the in-clinic PCSK9 inhibitor evolocumab to enhance Gemcitabine/Abraxane chemotherapy in pancreatic cancer guided by single-cell intravital imaging’.
Dr Jamie Fletcher at Children’s Cancer Institute and UNSW Medicine & Health has received $524,147 for ‘Pre-emptive targeted therapy to optimise high-risk neuroblastoma treatment’.
Associate Professor Kate Quinlan at UNSW Science has received $518,569 for ‘Discovery of eosinophil-derived thermogenic beiging factors to combat obesity’.
Associate Professor Irina Voineagu at UNSW Science has received $503,855 for ‘Identification and functional characterisation of genomic enhancers in the human brain: a steppingstone to clinical translation of genetic data for brain disorders’.
Dr Miriam Matamales at UNSW Science has received $486,802 for ‘The neural bases of inhibitory learning and disorders of action control’.