Grants to treat alcohol-use disorder and transform cancer diagnosis

22 October 2021

$10 million NHMRC funding

Sydney researchers have received two National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Synergy Grants worth $10 million.

Two University of Sydney research teams have been awarded NHMRC Synergy Grants to lead projects that will develop treatments for alcohol-use disorder and transform diagnosis of breast and lung cancer.

The Synergy Grants, announced today by the Hon. Greg Hunt MP, support outstanding multidisciplinary teams of investigators to work together to answer major questions that cannot be answered by a single investigator.

Professor Robyn Ward, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health, congratulated the researchers.

“The success in securing two synergy grants speaks to the innovative and collaborative nature of the projects.

“Both teams are tackling significant health problems, with the focus on improving long-term outcomes for patients and their families.”

Linking clinical and basic science discovery to find new treatments for alcohol use disorder

Professor Paul Haber and Associate Professor Kirsten Morley from the Faculty of Medicine and Health are chief investigators on a project which will deliver new approaches to treat alcohol use disorder, including how to tailor treatment to individual patient characteristics.

“More than a million Australians meet criteria for an alcohol use disorder, making it a leading cause of injury, chronic disease and mortality,” said Professor Haber.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve also seen increased consumption of alcohol and hospital admissions from alcohol problems.

“Current treatment options have limited effectiveness and there haven’t been any new medication discoveries for 20 years."

“This program will allow us to improve the treatment options for this common and disabling disorder by building a large collaborative research network to bridge the gaps between discovery sciences and the clinic," said Associate Professor Morley.

“We will identify mechanisms and predictors of efficacy to inform future drug discovery and develop a personalised medicine approach that will improve the lives of many Australians.”

Prof Paul Haber  University of Sydney 
Assoc Prof Kirsten Morley  University of Sydney 
Prof Andrew Lawrence  Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health 
Assoc Prof Victoria Manning  Monash University 
Prof Daniel Lubman  Monash University 
Prof Gavan McNally  University of New South Wales 
Dr Zayra Millan  University of New South Wales 
Dr Shalini Arunogiri  Monash University 
Prof Antonio Verdejo-Garcia  Monash University 
Dr Leigh Walker  Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health 
Dr Warren Logge  Sydney Local Health District 
Dr Rowan Ogeil  Monash University 
Prof Lorenzo Leggio  National Institute of Health 
Prof Henry Kranzler  University of Pennsylvania 
Prof Andrew Baillie  University of Sydney 
Prof Ronald Grunstein  University of Sydney 
Dr Christina Perry  Macquarie University 
Assoc Prof Yvonne Bonomo  St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne 

IMPACT: IMplementation of x-ray PhAse-Contrast Tomography to transform cancer diagnosis

Professor Patrick Brennan, Professor Sarah Lewis and Dr Amir Tavakoli Taba from the Faculty of Medicine and Health are chief investigators on a program that will transform diagnosis of breast and lung cancer by establishing a path to clinical implementation of a novel low-dose, high-quality, 3D imaging technique.

“Propagation-based phase-contrast computed tomography (PB-CT) can improve the imaging signal 10-fold, leading to a considerable improvement in image quality and a substantial reduction in the X-ray dose, compared to conventional X-ray imaging techniques,” said Professor Brennan.

“Successful clinical translation of PB-CT requires a multidisciplinary team of experts in academia and beyond. This Synergy Grant allows us to bring together the right people to deliver a world-first PB-CT imaging facility. 

“The program could revolutionise breast and lung cancer diagnosis worldwide and position Australia as an international hub of scientific, clinical and industrial excellence in X-ray phase-contrast imaging.

“Through vastly improved cancer diagnosis and reduced risk and discomfort, PB-CT has the potential to significantly reduce cancer mortality and morbidity.”

Prof Patrick Brennan  University of Sydney 
Prof Harry Quiney  University of Melbourne 
Prof Sarah Lewis  University of Sydney 
Prof Keith Nugent  Australian National University 
Prof Andrew Peele  Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation 
Dr Seyedamir Tavakoli Taba  University of Sydney 
Dr Kaye Morgan  Monash University 
Ms Jane Fox  Monash Health 
Mrs Giuliana Tromba  Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste 
Dr Darren Lockie  Eastern Health 
Dr Timur Gureyev  University of Melbourne 
Dr Yakov Nesterets  CSIRO Manufacturing Flagship 
Dr Christian Dullin  University Medical Center Gottingen 
Dr Daniel Hausermann  Australian Synchrotron 
Dr Sheridan Mayo  CSIRO Manufacturing Flagship 
Dr Matthew Dimmock  Monash University 

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