$6.3 million for ground-breaking stem cell research projects

30 June 2021
3 projects awarded MRFF funding
Sydney researchers have been awarded funding from the Medical Research Future Fund for three projects, including pioneering stem cell research to improve treatment for patients with end-stage heart failure.

The Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Greg Hunt, has announced $18.7 million in funding for the 2020 Stem Cell Mission, which focuses on research that develops and delivers innovative, safe and effective stem cell medicines to improve health outcomes.

Researchers from the University of Sydney have been awarded $6.3 million for three projects which will address blindness in adults, chronic heart failure, and help to improve decisions about access to stem cell interventions.

Deputy-Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Duncan Ivison celebrated the funding success.

“This funding will allow our health and medical researchers to undertake important research for the benefit of many Australians and their families, through trials that use stem cell grown heart muscle in patients with ‘no option’ end-stage heart failure," he said.

Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) 2020 Stem Cell Mission grants awarded to Sydney researchers include:

  • Dr Anai Gonzalez Cordero – awarded $498,419 for stem cell derived-retinal organoids to test genetic therapies. The majority of inherited retinal conditions leading to total blindness are due to loss of the light-sensing cells of the eye, the photoreceptor cells. Harnessing researcher expertise in human stem cell biology, genetics, ophthalmology and gene therapy to test efficacy of new therapies, research output aims to overcome the leading cause of blindness in the working-age population.
  • Associate Professor James Chong – awarded $4.9 million for induced pluripotent stem cell derived cardiomyocytes: a new therapy for no-option end stage heart failure. The outcome of this research could one day provide a "cure" for chronic heart failure preventing lost quality of life, premature death, costly drug treatments and hospital readmissions.
  • Associate Professor Wendy Lipworth – awarded $799,543 for ethics and evidence in stem cell medicine. This research will generate principles, guidelines and recommendations for determining when access should be confined to clinical trials, when interventions should be offered as a type of clinical innovation, and when they should be offered as standard clinical practice.

The Stem Cell Mission is a priority of the Morrison Government’s $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund and will provide $150 million towards research over 9 years.

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