The search to find new drugs to treat Australian children diagnosed with cancer has received a $6.6 million boost in the latest funding round from the National Health and Medical Research Council.
Executive Director of the Children's Cancer Institute and UNSW Conjoint Professor Michelle Haber received the only program grant for UNSW. Professor Haber and her team will use the funding to conduct clinical trials, using new drugs and novel drug combinations, to treat the aggressive cancer childhood neuroblastoma.
The grant was one of 11 UNSW projects to receive backing, totalling $8.7 million, in the latest funding round.
UNSW Associate Professor Rebecca Guy, based at the Kirby Institute, received a $690,000 partnership grant to research barriers to vaccination and how to increase coverage among the population. Despite Australia’s world leading vaccination program for the cancer-causing human papillomavirus, vaccination coverage across the country remains suboptimal, at 77% in girls.
This latest result sees UNSW move up one place to fourth in the Group of Eight, overtaking the University of Queensland, in terms of overall funding from the 2016 grant application round.
Dr Suzanne Nielsen, from UNSW’s National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, received $177,000 and was one of two UNSW researchers to receive Translating Research into Practice Fellowships.
Australian pharmacists receive little training on substance use disorders, yet are in contact with almost every person likely to develop problems with medications commonly used for pain, known as pharmaceutical opioids. Dr Nielsen’s research will take an innovative approach to involve pharmacists in identifying people developing problems with pharmaceutical opioids and referring them to treatment.
UNSW also received funding for six PhD scholarships, valued at $637,000, including a $125,000 grant to Dr Iain Perkes from UNSW’s School of Psychology.
Dr Perkes will scan the brains of teenagers with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) to help determine why they have difficulty using cues in their environment and struggle to make simple decisions, such as whether or not to wash their hands.
Professor Nicholas Fisk, UNSW Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), congratulated the grant recipients.
“This latest result sees UNSW move up one place to fourth in the Group of Eight, overtaking the University of Queensland, in terms of overall funding from the 2016 grant application round,” he said.
UNSW received $60.6 million from the 2016 grant application round, making up 8% of total NHMRC funding.