NHMRC funding success for SAHMRI researchers

13 Aug 2018
NHMRC funding success for SAHMRI researchers

Researchers at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) have been awarded funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to support their research, ranging from maternal and baby health, through to blood cancers and the microbiome.

SAHMRI’s Executive Director, Professor Steve Wesselingh, said that he is very pleased with today’s announcement. 

“Research Fellowships, Early Career Fellowships and Career Development Fellowships are all highly coveted and are only awarded to leading health and medical researchers across Australia,” Professor Wesselingh said.

“I’m delighted to see the success of our SAHMRI researchers at all stages of their careers, acknowledged by the NHMRC with these Fellowships. This is a fantastic result for both SAHMRI and South Australia.

“Securing government funding is becoming increasingly difficult and more competitive, so I’d like to congratulate our talented and dedicated researchers on this recognition.”

We are thrilled that the following researchers have been awarded funding from the NHMRC:

Nutritional interventions to improve the health of mothers and babies

Professor Maria Makrides, SAHMRI’s Healthy Mothers, Babies and Children Theme Leader, was awarded a Research Fellowship, which will explore projects aimed at improving the growth and development of infants who are born preterm, reducing the risk of early preterm birth (less than 34 weeks’ gestation) in pregnant women and reducing the risk of food allergies in children. This grant was administered by the University of Adelaide.

Setting a new paradigm for diagnosis and therapeutic triage in ALL using functional genomics

Professor Deb White, SAHMRI’s Director of Cancer Research and Deputy Cancer Theme Leader, has received a Career Development Fellowship to help achieve her vision to provide a systematic Precision Medicine approach, integrating genomics, bioinformatics and functional screening applicable to patients with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL). Professor White’s goal is to provide a screening paradigm broadly applicable to other cancers. 

New approaches to target plaque inflammation in atherosclerosis

Dr Peter Psaltis, SAHMRI’s Deputy Heart Health Theme Leader and Co-Director Vascular Research Centre received a Career Development Fellowship to help with his work in atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease (CAD). Specifically, he will investigate the repurposing of the established anti-gout drug, colchicine, to treat CAD. He will also explore eukaryotic elongation factor 2 kinase (eEF2K), a unique molecule, that can be readily targeted by drug inhibitors and eEF2K’s role in atherosclerotic plaque formation in mice and humans. This grant was administered by the University of Adelaide.

Host-microbiome interactions: mechanistic understanding for translation benefit

Associate Professor Geraint Rogers, Director of Microbiome Research at SAHMRI, Infection and Immunity Theme and Professor, Flinders University School of Medicine, Matthew Flinders Research Fellow, was awarded a Research Fellowship for research into dysbiosis, both in early life and adulthood, as a driver of pathogenesis and treatment response. By combining basic research, clinical studies, and interventional trials, Associate Professor Rogers’ work will result in microbiome-targeted strategies to prevent and treat dysbiosis-associated disease.

Generating an evidence base for optimal infant feeding advice and practice in the prevention of food allergy

Dr Merryn Netting, Post Doctoral Research Fellow within SAHMRI’s Healthy Mothers, Babies and Children Theme, has been awarded an Early Career Fellowship, to support three separate but interconnected projects to investigate the use of best practice infant feeding advice by health providers and parents. Dr Netting will assess contemporary diets, including the consumption of common food allergens of a nationally representative sample of Australian infants and toddlers, the effectiveness of regular SMS messaging to promote parental uptake of the infant feeding guidelines for the prevention of allergy and assess the translation into practice of the infant feeding guidelines for food allergy prevention by health care providers. 

Improving outcomes for preterm babies through closing the evidence to practice gap

Dr Amy Keir, Consultant Neonatologist within SAHMRI’s Healthy Mothers, Babies and Children Theme, has received an Early Career Fellowship, which will support her research projects focusing on reducing the rates of neurological injury and how to increase the use of breastmilk in preterm infants to improve their longer-term clinical outcomes. This grant was administered by the University of Adelaide.

Investigating ways to reduce parental supply of alcohol to teenagers in Australia

Ms Jacquie Bowden, Manager, Tobacco Control Research and Evaluation and Behavioural Scientist within SAHMRI’s Population Health Research Group, was awarded an Early Career Fellowship that will support her research into ways to reduce parental supply of alcohol to teenagers in Australia. This includes developing an improved understanding of Australian parents’ current behaviour and reasons for supplying alcohol to teenagers, the most persuasive messaging to reduce parental supply to teenagers and to encourage parents to consider their influence as role models in consumption. Ms Bowden will then use these results to develop a range of policy and intervention recommendations. This grant was administered by the University of South Australia.

SAHMRI wishes to acknowledge and congratulate its faculty and affiliates who have also received funding:

  • Dr Vasilios Panagopoulos, the University of Adelaide – Early Career Fellowship: Stromal cell-derived factor Gremlin 1 promotes tumour growth and metastasis of breast cancer
  • Professor Helen Marshall, the University of Adelaide - Practitioner Fellowship: Optimising immunisation in vulnerable groups to improve health outcomes for disadvantaged children
  • Professor Jozef Gecz, the University of Adelaide – Research Fellowship: Genetics and Biology of Neurodevelopmental Disability

Image: Dr Peter Psaltis and Professor Deborah White at SAHMRI. AAP / Matt Loxton