Researchers recognised in NHMRC grants

18 November 2010

Dr Simon Lewis from the Brain and Mind Research Institute will receive $428,869 over five years for his research into Parkinson's disease.
Dr Simon Lewis from the Brain and Mind Research Institute will receive $428,869 over five years for his research into Parkinson's disease.

University of Sydney researchers have been recognised as leaders in their fields with today's announcement of more than $9.8 million in Fellowships from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

The highly competitive and sought after Research and Practitioner Fellowships, announced by The Hon Mark Butler, Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, allow the nation's foremost health and medical professionals to develop their research careers.

The announcement also included Training Fellowships, Career Development Awards and the Training Research into Practice (TRIP) grants.

"Today's announcement of $32.5 million of fellowships for successful researchers will enable these researchers to continue their careers contributing to the health of Australians," the Minister said.

"These dedicated people work in areas as diverse as basic science, mental health and indigenous health.

"Some combine research careers with work as clinicians, or in health policy, allowing research to be put into practice quickly. Others focus on the basic science that is the foundation of our scientific knowledge."

The University received seven of the eight Practitioner Fellowships awarded in New South Wales, which allow outstanding clinical and public health researchers to maintain both a research and a professional career.

Dr Simon Lewis, Director of the Parkinson's Research Clinic at the Brain and Mind Research Institute (BMRI) and a Consulting Neurologist at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, will receive $428,869 over five years for his research into Parkinson's disease.

He has published extensively on the disease, particularly addressing symptoms that impact on the quality of life of sufferers. In addition to his research, he also sits on the council of the charity Parkinson's NSW and is now heading the first trial to evaluate community-based Parkinson's nurse specialists in Australia.

Dr Lewis this week presented some of the Parkinson's Research Clinic's ongoing work to the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, Ms Quentin Bryce AC.

"It is very flattering to have one's work recognised in this way, especially considering the high calibre of research being conducted across Australia," Dr Lewis said.

"I am sure that many colleagues would recognise the satisfaction that comes from carrying out clinical research and it is a tremendous relief to have this form of support to enable my work to continue."

The University also received more than $4.5 million in Research Fellowships, which allow outstanding health researchers to continue work of major importance to the field and of significant benefit to the people of Australia.

Professor Roland Stocker, the Chair of Biochemistry in Vascular Medicine at the University's Discipline of Pathology and the Bosch Institute, received the largest grant.

An NHMRC Research Fellow since 1994, Professor Stocker has secured $905,805 for his research into cardiovascular disease.

Professor Stocker's research focuses on the process of atherosclerosis (the hardening of blood vessels), which is the single major cause of heart attacks and stroke, and hence death, in Australia. In particular, he is concerned with the contribution of oxidation and inflammation to atherosclerosis and how the disease can be inhibited.

His work in understanding how oxidative processes affect blood vessels and blood flow has won international recognition and provides the possibility of new avenues for treating atherosclerosis and related disorders.

"This will enable us to pursue our research on the contribution of oxidative stress to cardiovascular disease," Professor Stocker said.

"Our research will include a focus on three major areas: the mechanism by which the enzyme heme oxygenase-1 protects against atherosclerosis and related diseases; the role tryptophan metabolism to kynurenine plays in the regulation of vascular tone in inflammatory conditions; and the importance of a specific type of oxidative stress as a cause of atherosclerosis."

For a full list of grant recipients, visit the NHMRC website.

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