Tasmanian community to benefit from latest health funding

Tasmanian research into cardiovascular disease and multiple sclerosis is among several key projects sharing in more than $4 million in the latest National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grants round.

The University of Tasmania’s College of Health and Medicine and Menzies Institute for Medical Research secured funding for four projects.

Three NHMRC Investigator Grants were awarded, totalling more than $3 million, and Menzies’ Professor James Sharman received more than $1 million in the NHMRC Partnership Project round.

College of Health and Medicine Executive Dean Professor Denise Fassett congratulated all of the successful recipients announced today.

“These funding results help to support vital research for the benefit of the Tasmanian community,” Professor Fassett said.

“Our expertise and research excellence across key areas in health, including multiple sclerosis and cardiovascular disease, is focussed on providing better health outcomes for Tasmania and beyond.

“Through our research, the College is committed to reducing the impact of disease and improving the health of the Tasmanian population.”

Menzies’ Distinguished Professor Alison Venn said: “We are delighted that the importance of these research programs has been recognised with this highly competitive national funding.

“The funding will significantly boost our researchers’ ability to advance understanding of how best to prevent and treat diseases that affect many in our community.”

Successful projects include:

NHMRC Partnership Project

Improved cardiovascular disease in hEALth service delivery in Australia (IDEAL Partnership)

– Professor James Sharman (Menzies Institute for Medical Research).

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) has the highest burden of global disease and highest level of health care expenditure in Australia. Most of the management of CVD is performed in general practice, where the recommended strategy is to determine absolute CVD risk based on multiple factors. Professor Sharman will work with partners to assist management with a new, yet simple and widely implementable digital health service that has been developed by researchers, industry, health service providers and policy makers.

NHMRC Investigator Grants

Elucidating The Genetic Architecture of Multiple Sclerosis To Influence Improvements in Disease Outcomes

– Dr Yuan Zhou (Menzies Institute for Medical Research). This proposal will address three major knowledge gaps in MS: (1) the genetic drivers of MS progression; (2) the causal role of EBV and HHV6 infection in MS onset and progression; and (3) the genetic differences between female and male MS patients. This work involves several large international collaborations with leading scientists across multiple fields. It will advance the identification of novel biological targets for developing early diagnostic and treatment applications in MS.

Ageing matters: Chromatin remodelling in healthy ageing and disease

– Dr Phillippa Taberlay (School of Medicine). The epigenome (meaning ‘above genes’) ensures that our genes are expressed in the right cell type at the right time. Dr Taberlay’s complementary research themes address a deceptively simple question: “How, why and what makes the epigenome so important?” This research will (1) define the limits of epigenetic flexibility in health ageing and (2) understand why and how the epigenome is reprogrammed, causing molecular damage that initiates and drives cancers and dementias.

The long-term effects of child, adolescent, and young adult cholesterol levels on future cardiovascular disease

– Dr Costan Magnussen (Menzies Institute). The research aims to understand the long-term impact of early-life cholesterol levels on adult heart health. Using international data, the work will determine the best cholesterol measures and ideal ages when prevention and treatment could be optimised, and uncover the public’s perception on screening and treatment for heart disease at a time in life that is several decades ahead of when the disease will become obvious. The findings could lead to better practises to delay or prevent heart disease.

Caption: Professor James Sharman

Image: Peter Mathew

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