Sydney top in NHMRC 10 of the Best Awards

2 August 2005

Professor Simon Chapman receiving his award
Professor Simon Chapman receiving his award


Two University of Sydney NHMRC funded research projects have been recognised in the NHMRC 10 of the Best Awards which were announced by the Health Minister Tony Abbott this week, with Sydney receiving more awards than any other university in the country.

Selected on the basis of their merit, accessibility and relevance to Australia, the projects were assessed through a peer review process of final project grant reports. The successful University of Sydney projects are:

Professor Tania Sorrell, Head of the Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology and colleagues at the Westmead Millennium Institute, were recognised for work to reduce the need of surgery for diagnostic purposes for patients, and enable better targeting for those who do require surgery for treatment.

There are at least 400 brain infections and 1500 brain tumours diagnosed every year in Australia and current tests such as CT and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) cannot easily distinguish brain abscesses and brain tumours.

Professor Sorrell’s study showed that magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) could easily distinguish between tumours and infection and as a result those patients with abscesses could avoid risky general anaesthesia and brain surgery.

The Tobacco Documents Research Group led by Professor Simon Chapman in the School of Public Health was also honoured by the Health Minister Tony Abbott.

Professor Chapman's group was jointly funded by the NHMRC and the US National Cancer Institute to comb through over 40 million pages of previously internal tobacco industry documents on Australia and Asia, researching how the tobacco industry sought to "reassure' smokers that they need not be concerned about the health risks of smoking, denying that nicotine is addictive and that they were interested in the teenage market, and generally opposing all effective forms of tobacco control.

Over 10,000 important documents have been indexed by Professor Chapman's group and annotated on a website, and supplemented this with a mammoth collection of related documents, press reports, Hansard extracts and personal papers from tobacco control pioneers such as the late Dr Cotter Harvey and the "BUGA UP" civil disobedience graffiti group. The website is currently the number 1 site hit for the word "tobacco" in Australia, and number 10 in the world.  The group has published 35 papers from teh project, including in the Lancet and Addiction. Two special supplements have been published in the BMJ specialist journal Tobacco Control, one on Australia, and another on Asia.


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