Creating a genetic map to prevent future pandemics, chronic disease support and heart attack prevention are some of the projects awarded funding in the 2022 NHMRC Investigator Grants.
The 2022 National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Investigator Grants have been announced.
NHMRC Investigator Grants support research across the four pillars of health and medical research: biomedical, clinical, public health and health services, and researchers at all career stages. The scheme aims to allow flexibility for researchers to pursue important new research directions, to form collaborations, and foster innovative and creative research.
31 University of Sydney researchers were successful, made up of 21 women and 10 men, across a range of levels of experience. These include 16 Doctors and early career researchers, three Associate Professors, and 12 Professors. In total, they have secured over $50 million in funding over the next five years.
Research being funded includes work on heart disease, COVID-19, mental health, and dementia. See below for highlights and a full list of the successful researchers.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Emma Johnston said:
"We are very proud of our researchers' success in the Investigator scheme. I am particularly delighted by the exceptionally strong performance of our female and early and mid-career colleagues this round."
"Our researchers' projects explore a diverse range of fields across all four pillars of health and medical research, from digital, mental and public health to clinical trial design and precision medicine, to kidney and heart disease and cancer. The discoveries they make will help improve the lives of people everywhere. We are so pleased to be able to support this work at Sydney."
We are very proud of our researchers' success in the Investigator scheme. I am particularly delighted by the exceptionally strong performance of our female and early and mid-career colleagues this round.
Pulmonary Fibrosis is made up of a group of devastating conditions affecting the lung tissue. There are enormous challenges in both diagnosis and treatment of these conditions.
Associate Professor Tamera Corte intends to pioneer innovative approaches to individualised care in this field. With the funding from the Investigator Grant, A/Prof. Corte will build upon the Centre of Research Excellence for Pulmonary Fibrosis - a nationwide collaboration with the vision to transform and extend the lives of people living with pulmonary fibrosis across Australia. She will focus on improving early diagnosis, prevention of disease progression, and optimising access and delivery of care.
For people living with dementia, there are currently few options for treating their cognitive symptoms.
Dr Claire O’Callaghan is developing a program to establish new ways to treat cognitive decline in dementia, through symptomatic drug treatments. This includes providing new biomarkers to measure the effects of drugs, and enable accurate prediction of who will respond best to which treatments.
This program will help to create targeted, personalised medicine in dementia care.
Associate Professor Fabienne Brilot has pioneered work on neuroimmunological disorders, with a particular focus on those with unknown causes.
With the help of this grant, she intends to build on her team's existing work, as well as expand into uncharted territory in immunotherapy, to further grow Australian research capacity. She will do this through directly improving treatment decision-making, and harnessing new therapeutic options.
Their work will greatly assist to reduce the burden of neuro-immunological disorders on the Australian healthcare system.
The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the impact of zoonotic viruses on human populations.
Professor Eddie Holmes’ project will provide the technological foundation for a global ‘pandemic radar’ for emerging human viruses. The programme will help transform our understanding of the threat posed by emerging viruses and will be crucial in the fight against infectious diseases. This will help protect Australia and the world from future pandemics.
Professor Meg Jardine's program will use innovative clinical trial designs to address the challenges in determining chronic disease with a focus on chronic kidney disease. Challenges include the number of rare medical conditions, the complexity of kidney replacement interventions and the lack of established standards of care to treat many conditions.
The program will build on relationships with the clinical community, consumer groups, digital health experts and national and international networks to add randomised evidence generation in clinical practice. The goal is to reduce complications and the progression of disease for people with complex chronic health conditions.
Professor Gemma Figtree’s work has highlighted that approximately one-quarter of first-time heart attack patients do not have any of the typical risk factors, and develop ‘silent’ coronary artery disease with no symptoms at all.
She and her team will use this archetypal group to unravel key new mechanisms and markers of coronary artery disease relevant to all patients at risk of a heart attack.
Professor Figtree's program will drive the discovery of new biomarkers for the early detection and treatment of coronary artery disease.
This will lead to improved knowledge and health outcomes for Australians, leading to better detection and treatment of coronary artery disease.
“I am enormously grateful to the NHMRC for this support. It will facilitate my team to take exciting leads towards clinical translation, allowing a new way to detect CAD and prevent heart attack, ” Professor Figtree said.
I am enormously grateful to the NHMRC for this support. It will facilitate my team to take exciting leads towards clinical translation, allowing a new way to detect CAD and prevent heart attack.
There is a global burden of mental disorders, and given the additional impacts of COVID-19, effective mental health services innovations need to be implemented.
Professor Ian Hickie’s research will look into how effective mental health service innovations, which include new planning, technology and clinical tools, can deliver not only better individual outcomes, but be incorporated at scale into youth health services. The research will also investigate regional implementation plans for local communities.
“The research has a specific emphasis on regional implementation processes that can be led by local communities. This is to meet the needs of those who are more disadvantaged economically, socially, geographically or culturally,” said Professor Ian Hickie.
The research has a specific emphasis on regional implementation processes that can be led by local communities. This is to meet the needs of those who are more disadvantaged economically, socially, geographically or culturally.
Professor Edward Holmes - A Metagenomics Platform to prevent future pandemics ($3.9M)
Professor Richard Scolyer - Melanoma: Getting the Diagnosis and Treatment Right for Better Patient Outcomes ($3.9M)
Professor Meg Jardine - Addressing unmet needs in chronic disease through innovations in trial design and delivery ($3.2M)
Professor Anthony Keech - Innovative clinical trials: improving care and health outcomes ($2.9M)
Professor Kirsten McCaffery - Transforming health literacy in Australia: a partnership approach ($2.8M)
Professor Jean Yang - Statistical bioinformatics at single cell resolution ($2.6M)
Professor Ian Hickie - Right care, first time: delivering technology-enabled mental health care to young people at scale ($2.4M)
Professor William Tarnow-Mordi- Advancing perinatal health in Australia through international randomised studies to reduce death and disability ($2.4M)
Associate Professor Fabienne Brilot- Understanding the autoimmune response against the brain to improve diagnosis and therapy of neuroimmunological disorders ($2.3M)
Professor Sandra Cooper - Innovating pathways to embed novel RNA technologies into clinical practice ($2.2M)
Professor Christopher Semsarian - Translating Genomics into Improved Care of Inherited Heart Disease and Sudden Death Families ($2.1M)
Professor Gemma Figtree - Innovative solutions towards reducing heart attacks- beyond classical risk factors ($2M)
Professor Carol Pollock - Discovery and validation of antifibrotic therapies for kidney disease ($2M)
Associate Professor Tamera Corte- Transforming Outcomes for Pulmonary Fibrosis ($1.9M)
Professor Andrew Gardner - Repetitive Neurotrauma and the Risk for Dementia in Former Athletes ($1.5M)
Dr Claire O'Callaghan - A pathway to new symptomatic drug therapies in dementia ($1.5M)
Dr Anna Singleton - Scalable Survivorship Support after Cancer (CanSupport): Evaluation of a co-designed and automated eHealth intervention to support cancer survivors in primary care ($0.6M)
Dr Giselle Yeo - Functional amplification of stem cells for tissue repair ($0.6M)
Dr Julie Ayre - Evaluation and implementation of a digital health literacy tool to improve written health information ($0.6M)
Dr Kirstie Bertram - Linking microbiome, inflammation, HIV target cells ($0.6M)
Dr Kristie Weir- One size does not fit all: achieving patient-centred deprescribing through evidence-based, individualised interventions ($0.6M)
Dr Pierre Qian - Development of novel ablation technologies for the treatment of ventricular tachycardia ($0.6M)
Dr Rachel Menzies - Targeting death anxiety with an online intervention to improve outcomes in anxiety-related disorders ($0.6M)
Dr Rebecca Rockett - Pathogen Genomics Dual Utility to Deliver Personalised Medicine and Precision Public Health ($0.6M)
Dr Liliana Laranjo - Digital health to support behaviour change and chronic disease prevention in the community: What works, for whom, and in what context? ($0.6M)
Dr Jessica Orchard - Screening of athletes for cardiovascular disease and prevention of sudden death ($0.6M)
Dr David Waddington - Advancing dynamic MRI to enable adaptive lung radiotherapy ($0.6M)
Dr Louise Birrell - Stemming the rising tide of youth mental health problems: prevention through social connection ($0.6M)
Dr Frank Iorfino - Harnessing digital technologies to improve the quality of youth mental health services ($0.6M)
Dr Hiba Jebeile - Optimising metabolic and mental health in the management of adolescent obesity ($0.6M)
Dr Kavitha Kothur - Biomarker discovery informs precision medicine in childhood epilepsy ($0.6M)