Funding supports vital medical research

Campus

University of Adelaide researchers have been awarded almost $11 million in funding from the Federal Government’s Medical Research Future Fund.

The University of Adelaide has been awarded almost $11 million in funding from the Federal Government’s Medical Research Future Fund.

The funding, totalling $10,937,696, will support projects in Indigenous health, genomics and cardiovascular research.

  • A team led by Joanne Hedges, Director of the Indigenous Oral Unit at the Adelaide Dental School, will use its $3,208,372 grant over the five year life of the project to conduct an Australian-first study into the impacts of using silver diamine fluoride (SDF) to reduce dental disease in young Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders. “The findings of this research have the potential to change the way in which the oral health of Indigenous children is managed,” Ms Hodges said. “The application of SDF – an antibiotic liquid that helps replenish the fluoride reservoir in tooth enamel – is a much less invasive alternative to needles, and drilling and filling, with many cost benefits.”
  • Professor Jozef Gecz, Founding Head of the Neurogenetics Research Program at the Adelaide Medical School, and his team will use its $2,996,428 grant over five years to study the origins and reasons behind numerous genetic disorders. “We will use a revolutionary gene editing technology called CRISPR-Cas9, which is a relatively affordable and simple method to edit DNA,” Professor Gecz said. “This technology also has potential therapeutic applications, and in cases where specific genes need to be activated or supressed, to restore their physiological balance.”
  • Associate Professor Karin Kassahn from the Adelaide Medical School and her team, including world-renowned newborn screening expert Enzo Ranieri, will trial a newborn screening model that will allow more conditions to be screened for in newborn babies. “This will allow earlier intervention before the on-set of clinical signs to avoid lifelong medical problems and permanent injury,” Associate Professor Kassahn said. “Our innovative approach will trial genome sequencing and metabolite profiling to identify more at-risk newborns than current screening methods and enable earlier treatment.” Associate Professor Kassahn received a grant of $2,941,351 for the three-year project.
  • Associate Professor Christina Bursill from the Adelaide Medical School and her team received a grant of $999,989 over three years to test if certain amounts of a key protein in the blood can predict the presence of fatty deposits in the heart and neck vessels. “These fatty deposits can cause heart attack and stroke if they are not caught early enough,” Associate Professor Bursill said. “The project will pave the way for a unique blood-based marker for heart disease and stroke that will be supported by novel sugar biomarkers.”
  • Associate Professor Rajiv Mahajan from the Adelaide Medical School and his team will use their grant of $791,555 over two years to investigate the use of behaviour change driven by digital technology to transform care of atrial fibrillation patients. “This will be achieved by instilling critical health literacy, use of precision tools to support patients through lifestyle changes and shared decision making,” Associate Professor Mahajan said. “This approach is a shift from scarcely available atrial fibrillation clinics, to one that emphasises health literacy to improve cardiovascular outcomes.”
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