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Sydney leads in medical centres of excellence

8 October 2020
Investing in Sydney-led research excellence
The University of Sydney will lead three new national medical research centres in coronary artery disease, prevention of fall-related injuries and multiple morbidities.

The Minister for Health, the Hon. Greg Hunt MP, announced the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Centres of Research Excellence on 6 October, with Sydney awarded the most centres nationally - a total of $7.5M in funding. 

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Duncan Ivison said the results were outstanding, welcoming the support for some of the University’s top health and medical researchers to continue their important work.

Gemma Figtree headshot

Professor Gemma Figtree (pictured right) will lead the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence for Better Outcomes in Coronary Artery Disease, which will investigate the 27 percent of heart attack patients who have no known risk factors for coronary artery disease, such as hypertension, cholesterol, diabetes and smoking.

The aim is to improve clinical outcomes of these patients, and identify new mechanisms and biomarkers to predict and prevent heart attacks, which occur every ten minutes in Australia. 

Catherine Sherrington headshot

Professor Catherine Sherrington (pictured right) will lead the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in the Prevention of Fall-related Injuries. The centre will help understand and reduce falls and fall-related injuries in Australia, which lead to 1.2 million days of hospital care and cost at least $1 billion each year.

“This will be the first time that a research centre will combine expertise of researchers, clinicians, policy-makers, consumers and carers to tackle the big unanswered questions in fall injury prevention, such as how to prevent falls in hospitals and residential facilities,” Professor Sherrington said.  

Professor John Eastwood

Professor John Eastwood (pictured right), Executive Clinical Advisor Clinical Services Integration and Population Health and Public Health Physician for the Sydney Local Health District will lead the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence for Care for People with Complex Multimorbidities.

The research centre aims to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable people in the community, focusing on reducing hospitalisation. The multi-disciplinary research centre will establish community-based interventions and through big data analysis, use demographic and clinical data to monitor and identify what interventions are most effective at reducing the health-burden.

“There is evidence that people who experience severe adversity will have a higher prevalence of health problems – our work will find what methods can ensure that their health and social needs met, and are connected to society,” said Professor Eastwood.

 “This research centre will build strong, new national collaborations, bringing together community care scientists across diverse disciplines with a common goal – to support those in the community facing adversity due to health, psychological trauma, social and economic disadvantage.”

The research builds on the Health Homes and Neighbourhoods Integrated Care initiative, led by the Sydney Local Health District, which recently won the 2019 Prime Ministers Public Service Award and 2019 NSW Health Award.

Sydney academics were also awarded two NHMRC Partnership Projects on 6 October, as part of Minister Hunt’s announcement.

Professor Carolyn Sue was awarded $1.2 million for work to deliver precision diagnosis to patients with mitochondrial disease and Associate Professor Megan Passey was awarded $1.03 million to trial an innovative, evidence-based program to help pregnant women quit smoking.

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