Monash researchers have been lauded in Australia’s Federal Budget, with Associate Professor Eric Chow receiving the 2020 Commonwealth Health Minister’s Award, and other research projects receiving over $4M in direct funding to explore mental health during COVID-19 and using AI to address superbugs in the healthcare system.
President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Margaret Gardner AC said,”On behalf of Monash, I thank the Federal Government for awarding more than $4 million towards the University’s research projects, and recognising Associate Professor Eric Chow with the prestigious Commonwealth Health Minister’s Award for Excellence in Health and Medical Research.
“It is a testament to Monash’s strength and global reputation as an innovative and research-intensive university, and recognises the important work of our researchers – which is perhaps more important now than ever before as we continue on our path to recovery from COVID-19.
“This funding will help us to ensure we can continue to build a sustainable and healthy future for generations to come.”
The direct funding for Monash projects comes in addition to the $1B funding for research for Australian universities announced by the Treasurer, which has been welcomed in a statement by the Group of Eight.
The Federal Budget named the following Monash projects and researchers:
Preventing superbugs using Genomics, Digital Health and AI
Professor Anton Peleg and his team from the Department of Infectious Diseases and the Alfred Hospital have been awarded $3.4M from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) for a project called The SuperbugAi Flagship. This innovative project will integrate the most transformative technologies in healthcare; genomics, electronic healthcare data and artificial intelligence, in order to diagnose, treat and prevent antimicrobial resistance in hospitals and the healthcare system. The research also aims to create a tracking and response system to lead to earlier detection of superbugs, personalised treatment for patients and prevention of outbreaks. SuberbugAi has the potential to save patient lives, prevent superbug spread, and improve healthcare quality, resource utilisation and costs.
Investigating mental health during COVID-19
Associate Professor Marie Yap and her team from the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health were awarded $610,000 from the MRFF to reduce the impact and risk of longer-term adolescent mental health problems by enhancing their parents’ ability to support them during COVID-19 and beyond. The project aims to involve parents in a co-designed process that learns and responds to their changing needs; to dynamically adapt an evidence-based parenting program, Partners in Parenting, integrated with an online peer-support platform for parents. This research will empower parents and enhance their capacity to safeguard their child’s mental health and wellbeing.
2020 Commonwealth Health Minister’s Award for Excellence in Health and Medical Research
Associate Professor Eric Chow from the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre has received the 2020 Commonwealth Health Minister’s Award for Excellence in Health and Medical Research for his work in the control of sexually transmitted infections. The award is given annually to the top ranked recipient of National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Investigator Grants and includes a further $50,000 for research.
Associate Professor Chow’s research aims to improve treatment, prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections (STI), with a particular interest in gonorrhoea, syphilis and human papillomavirus (HPV). He is currently conducting clinical trials to examine whether antiseptic mouthwash could be used as a novel treatment and preventive strategy for gonorrhoea.
Over the next five years, Associate Professor Chow’s work will focus on halting the rapidly rising rates of STI in Australia by using a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the transmission dynamics of STI and exploring novel interventions for STI prevention and control.