$15 million for innovative health and medical research

Chronic pain, cancer and COVID-19’s impact on chronic lung disease sufferers are some of the problems University of Sydney researchers will tackle under new NHMRC funding, worth more than $15 million.

University of Sydney researchers from the Faculty of Medicine and Health and the Faculty of Science have been awarded more than $15 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) for 18 Ideas Grant projects.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Duncan Ivison welcomed the announcement and congratulated the researchers who were awarded funding.

“It is wonderful to see so many colleagues awarded funding by the NHMRC for research in basic science that will contribute to improving the quality of life for many Australians,” said Professor Ivison.

Their research ranges from developing new gene-editing therapies for extreme untreatable chronic pain, exploring how chronic lung disease increases the severity of COVID-19 and identifying effective drugs for treatment, to creating communication solutions for children with cerebral palsy and speech impairment.

Professor Duncan Ivison

The NHRMC Ideas Grants support researchers at all career stages undertaking innovative and creative research projects in any area of health and medical research from discovery to implementation.

Grant highlights awarded to Sydney researchers in this round include:

  • Professor Greg Neely from the Charles Perkins Centre, Faculty of Science and his team, who have been awarded $832,000 for a project which will use new genomic knowledge and techniques to gain basic insight into pain biology and develop new gene-editing therapies to treat extreme untreatable chronic pain.
  • Dr Petra Karlsson from the Faculty of Medicine and Health and her team, who have been awarded $1.1 million to support the development of a world-first data-driven MY Voice Library, a foundation for research and development of innovative engineering of real-time communication solutions for children with cerebral palsy.
  • Professor Vanessa Hayes from the Faculty of Medicine and Health and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and her team have been awarded $1.3 million to harness whole genome interrogation and an intercontinental and interethnic study design, to distinguish the genetic and non-genetic factors contributing to prostate cancer disparities.
  • Emeritus Professor Warwick Britton from the Faculty of Medicine and Health and Centenary Institute and his team have been awarded $897,000 for a project which will define how chronic lung disease increases the severity of COVID-19, how SARS-CoV-2 infection exacerbates tuberculosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and identify effective drugs that suppress inflammatory damage to the lung.
  • Dr James Burchfield from the Charles Perkins Centre and Faculty of Science and his team have been awarded $1.7 million to better understand the underlying cause of Coenzyme Q10 (a molecule essential for energy production) depletion and how it causes cardiometabolic disease. The aim is to use newly acquired understanding of the disease process to develop new treatments.

The following University of Sydney researchers were also awarded NHMRC Ideas Grants:

Faculty of Science recipients

  • Dr Sean Humphrey from the Charles Perkins Centre has been awarded $1.3 million for Mapping the Beneficial Effects of Exercise in humans using Personalised Phosphoproteomics
  • Professor Joel Mackay from Sydney Nano has been awarded $829,000 for New approaches to cancer treatment through mRNA display

  • Professor Tracy Bryan has been awarded $618,000 for A gene-editing strategy for telomere-related bone marrow failure
  • Dr Anne Grunseit from the Charles Perkins Centre has been awarded $570,000 for Applying reverse translation to the parkrun phenomenon to identify effective, sustainable methods for scaling-up public health interventions
  • Associate Professor Alison Hayes from the Charles Perkins Centre has been awarded $368,000 for Novel modelling of childhood obesity to improve decision making and close the gap
  • Professor Robyn Jamieson has been awarded $747,000 for ALPK1 dysfunction: revealing a novel pathogenic pathway in retinal diseases
  • Associate Professor Seo-Kyung Chung has been awarded $586,000 for Characterisation of novel genetic variants in Hyperekplexia and Dravet Syndrome: Identifying the Unknown Knowns
  • Associate Professor Craig Phillips has been awarded $658,000 for Understanding Brain Cleaning in Obstructive Sleep Apnoea
  • Associate Professor Matthew Simunovic from the Save Sight Institute has been awarded $634,000 for Optogenetic restoration of high-sensitivity vision with ChRmine, a novel Type I opsin
  • Associate Professor Anne Marie Thow from the Charles Perkins Centre has been awarded $844,000 for Safeguarding health in International Investment Agreements
  • Professor Steve Vucic has been awarded $1 million for Mechanisms underlying cortical hyperexcitability in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Associate Professor Yiping Wang from the Westmead Institute for Medical Research has been awarded $753,000 for Exploring the therapeutic potential of genetically engineering macrophages with a Chimeric Signaling Switch Receptor in kidney diseases
  • Dr Justin Wong has been awarded $1.1 million for Alternative splicing: A novel target to improve outcomes in acute myeloid leukaemia

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