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National eating disorders centre ignites research fund for new solutions

17 August 2022
Supporting bright ideas to tackle eating disorders

Sydney’s first eating disorders research and translation centre offers nationwide grant opportunity to progress prevention, treatments and support in partnership with research, lived experience, clinical and community experts.

The Australian Eating Disorders Research and Translation Centre, led by InsideOut Institute at the University of Sydney, has launched the IgnitED Fund to unearth new ideas that have the potential to solve the problem of eating disorders.

Logo for IgnitED: Funding new research and translation ideas for eating disorders

Open to anyone living in Australia, IgnitED offers grants of up to $25,000 to develop and test innovative ideas that have potential to improve outcomes for people with eating disorders and their loved ones. It is the Centre’s first funding initiative following the $13 million grant awarded in January to establish the new national centre.

Focused on the co-design phase of research, successful applicants will bring alive ideas to be tested in a research methodology for translation into practice – incorporating collaborative co-production with the very people affected by eating disorders.

Eating disorders are serious and complex mental illnesses with significant physical and mental health impacts, high mortality rates and low rates of detection.

Centre Director Associate Professor Sarah Maguire said the fund aims to aims to support the generation of innovative ideas and facilitate the creation of novel teams among researchers, people with lived experience, clinical and community practitioners, and anyone who are relevant to the proposed project:

“We need to think differently to find better ways to treat the 1 million Australians living with an eating disorder and to prevent their development in the first place. This is an exciting opportunity to develop bold solutions that haven’t been previously tested in the eating disorders field, and tap the diversity and wisdom in our communities.” 

We hope that the IgnitED Fund will be the starting point for new and important scientific work that drives better treatments, better supports and better outcomes for people living with an eating disorder, their families and carers.
Associate Professor Sarah Maguire, Director, InsideOut Institute and Australian Eating Disorders Research and Translation Centre

Centre Co-Director and InsideOut Director Professor Stephen Touyz of the Faculty of Science said: “With genuine co-design from inception, it is hoped that these new ideas will generate much-needed interest to research new opportunities across Australia.”

The Centre is supported by a research and translation ecosystem at the University of Sydney and a national consortium, including lead partners Orygen and Brain and Mind Centre.

Brain and Mind Centre Co-Director Professor Ian Hickie said IgnitED will support truly innovative research: “We need to look outside the box and bring in new insights from other areas of developmental neuroscience and novel therapeutics. For too long, we have just accepted very poor health and functional outcomes as the norm.”

We desperately need new treatments that can be applied earlier in the course of illness to deliver highly personalised and more effective care. The Australian Eating Disorders Research and Translation Centre will focus on genuine leaps forward rather than further refinement of known methods.
Professor Ian Hickie, Co-Director, Health and Policy, Brain and Mind Centre

Professor Maree Teesson AC, Director of ecosystem partner Matilda Centre, highlighted that IgnitED’s strong focus on teams and originality provides a unique opportunity to break down silos and tackle complex issues.

“The IgnitED Fund is a bold new scheme that seeks to unleash the power of diverse teams to capture and ignite innovation,” said Professor Teesson. “It will be so exciting to see new ideas and evidence being built, so everyone has a chance at a mentally healthy future.”

People with lived experience expertise and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are encouraged to apply.

The national centre’s Lived Experience Co-Lead Shannon Calvert said the grants ensure people with lived and living experience are at the core of scientific work: “The IgnitED Fund is about bringing people together who have diverse strengths and perspectives to support and enable much-needed breakthroughs that help prevent illness and that help people get better.”

Calvert was recently appointed to the Million Minds Mental Health Research Mission expert advisory panel chaired by Professor Teesson to guide Australia’s future roadmap in mental health.

According to the Centre's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Co-Lead, Leilani Darwin, First Nations Australians are believed to experience high rates of eating disorders, disordered eating and food insecurity issues.

“The IgnitED Fund facilitates Indigenous innovation,” said Darwin. “For the first time, we are uniquely positioned to elevate the need to better understand the issue of eating disorders and to build the evidence and best practice for our communities.”

The Co-Leads inform the Centre's governance and activities to set a national standard for co-production with experts to help transform the eating disorders treatment landscape.

The Centre focuses on risk and protective factors, very early intervention and individualised medicine as part of the top 10 research priorities identified in the National Eating Disorders Research and Translation Strategy 2021–31.

Applications for the IgnitED Fund are now open until Wednesday 15 June 2022.

The Australian Eating Disorders Research and Translation Centre is supported by funding from the Australian Government under the National Leadership in Mental Health program.

The IgnitED Fund is jointly sponsored by the Australian Eating Disorders Research and Translation Centre and NSW Government.

If you or someone you know may be living with an eating disorder and need support, please contact your GP or the national eating disorders helpline – 1800 ED HOPE or 1800 33 4673.

Banner image: Ameen Fahmy on Unsplash

*Eating disorders statistics supplied by InsideOut Institute for Eating Disorders

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