District clinician-researchers awarded major NHMRC grants.
Sydney Local Health District clinician-researchers have been awarded a share of $200 million in National Health and Medical Research Council grants to improve the health of our community.
The NHMRC grants aim to find solutions to a wide range of health challenges including cancer, cardiovascular disease, stillbirths and mental health.
The District’s Director of Research, Professor Warwick Britton, was awarded $4.5 million towards his work on Tuberculosis (TB), particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.
Professor Britton is a Clinical immunologist at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Bosch Professor of Medicine and Professor of Immunology at the University of Sydney and Head of the Mycobacterial Research Program at the Centenary Institute.
The funding will go towards a Centre of Research Excellence in Tuberculosis Control, which willharness expertise in clinical, laboratory and community research to help provide the necessary evidence and new tools to eliminate TB transmission in Australia and strengthen TB control in our region.
“TB remains an enormous health problem worldwide and rising rates of drug resistant TB in the Asia-Pacific region pose a particular threat to Australia,” Professor Britton said. The centre will be based at the University of Sydney.
RPA cardiology Professor Chris Semsarian was awarded a $585,270 practitioner fellowship to continue his work on understanding the genetic basis of heart disease. This grant will fund a study aimed at identifying new genes in families with inherited heart disease and sudden cardiac death using state-of-the-art whole genome sequencing approaches, and discover the underlying disease processes using patient-derived stem cells.
“New clinical and genetic knowledge will lead to the improved care of inherited heart disease families,” Professor Semsarian said.
RPA interventional cardiologist Associate Professor Martin Ng was awarded $488,596 towards his work aimed at eliminating leaks following transcatheter heart valves procedures.
Procedures such as transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) have “revolutionised medicine by enabling the definitive treatment of structural heart disease without the morbidity and mortality associated with open surgery,” Associate Professor Ng said.
“The enormous clinical potential of these devices has been tempered by the serious and unresolved problem of their leak following deployment. Elimination of leak with our seal technology would expand the number of patients eligible for minimally invasive treatment and improve clinical outcomes.”
RPA neurologist Professor Matthew Kiernan was awarded a $585,270 practitioner fellowship to enable the translation of research findings into treatments and diagnostic tools to help people with Frontotemporal Dementia and Motor Neurone Disease.
Professor Kiernan is the Bushell Chair of Neurology at the University of Sydney and leads the Brain and Mind Centre in the area of Discovery and Translation.
He said compared with other neurodegenerative diseases, patients with Frontotemporal Dementia and Motor Neurone Disease have a shorter survival and a more rapid decline in their cognition and function.
“Given these affect younger people and progress quickly, the overall impact of these disorders is greater than other types of dementia,” he said.
The Fellowship will enable the translation of research findings into treatments and diagnostic tools that could be used to help people with these conditions.
The NHMRC grants were announced by Minister for Health, Greg Hunt MP, on August 13.