Monday, 5 December 2016

Monash leads Federal Government’s NHMRC project grant funding

Professor William Sievert
The Federal Minister for Health, The Hon Sussan Ley announced on Saturday that Monash University had topped the funding in this year’s project grants awarded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
Monash is to receive a total of $78.7 million, including $62.7 million in project grants. 

The School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS) and Hudson Institute of Medical Research together received 15 of the Faculty’s 64 grants, totalling $10.7 million in new funding for CIA researchers.

Monash Health nephrologist Associate Professor Kevan Polkinghorne received more than $1 million for his project that will study the impact of fish oil supplementation on reducing cardiovascular disease events in dialysis patients. 

“If proven beneficial, it will represent an easily accessible and inexpensive novel therapy to improve the lifespan of dialysis patients,” said Associate Professor Polkinghorne.

Nearly $500,000 awarded to Head of Haematology Research at the Monash Health Translation Precinct, Associate Professor Jake Shortt brings hope to multiple myeloma patients.    

“Thalidomide-like drugs (called IMiDs) are an essential treatment for multiple myeloma, a common incurable blood cancer,” said Associate Professor Shortt.
“We have discovered that IMiDs destroy proteins that myeloma cells use to ‘read’ cancer-causing genes in their own DNA.”

“We will investigate how important the destruction of these ‘gene readers’ is in myeloma cells, including patient samples—also setting up future studies targeting ‘gene readers’ using IMiDs in combination with other targeted drugs in clinical trials.”

Patients suffering liver cirrhosis are also expected to benefit from nearly $400,000 awarded to Professor William Sievert.

“Globally, liver cirrhosis is the sixth most common cause of life-years lost to premature mortality and deaths due to liver cirrhosis have increased by over 45% between 1990 and 2013,” said Professor Sievert, Director of Gastroenterology and Hepatology Unit at Monash Health.

“We propose a phase 1 clinical trial of human amnion epithelial cells (hAEC), a placental stem cell derived from the fetus, in patients with compensated cirrhosis.”

“Our ultimate goal is to develop hAEC as a therapy that will reduce fibrosis in cirrhotic patients at risk of disease progression and this therapy has the potential to decrease the global burden of disease and death due to cirrhosis and its complications.”

Professor Paul Hertzog, Director of the Centre for Innate Immunity and Infectious Diseases at the Hudson Institute of Medical Research received more than $1.3 million for his research into interferons (IFNs), a family of proteins with critical roles in infectious and inflammatory diseases and cancers.

Professor Hertzog said that currently we do not understand why there are so many type I IFNs, their different functions and how they are achieved. 

“This project will determine at a fine molecular level how different IFNs interact with molecules on target cells and transmit particular signals. We will focus on a novel IFNe that we discovered and these studies will underpin the development of new therapies.”

Congratulations to all researchers (listed below) at the Monash Health Translation Precinct (MHTP) who received grants or fellowships in this latest round.   Read full details of their grants HERE.

Dr David Scott
Professor Stephen Holdsworth
Associate Professor Jake Shortt
Professor Paul Hertzog
Professor Michael Hickey
Professor William Sievert
Associate Professor Evdokia Dimitriadis
Associate Professor Ron Firestein
Dr Colin Clyne
Associate Professor Mark Hedger
Dr Peter Stanton
Professor David Walker
Professor Philip Bardin
Dr Miranda Davies-Tuck
Associate Professor Kevan Polkinghorne
Dr Michelle Tate
Dr Jacqueline Boyle
Professor David Nikolic-Paterson

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