Monash leads Federal Govt’s NHMRC project grant funding

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The Federal Minister for Health, The Hon Sussan Ley announced today that Monash University had topped the funding in this year’s project grants awarded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Monash is to receive $62.7 million in project grants the Minister said during a visit to Monash University’s new state of the art medical research centre, the Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) at Clayton.

Today’s funding announcement includes $23.4 million for research projects at the BDI, which was officially opened by the Prime Minister, The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull last month.

The President and Vice Chancellor of Monash University, Professor Margaret Gardner AO said the University was delighted with the project grant funding.

“It recognises Monash is leading medical research and the world class projects being pursued to improve the health of our communities,” Professor Gardner said.

Over the past few months, the NHMRC has awarded Monash more than $75 million in research funding. That commitment includes fellowships and $1.5million for Development Grants and $2.5million for a Centre of Research Excellence in Prehospital Emergency Care.

Monash University Vice-Provost (Research) Professor Pauline Nestor said the University had been highly successful in attracting, retaining and nurturing the best research talent.

The project grant funding will benefit 75 Monash led research programs. This includes $750,000 for the ‘triple negative breast cancer’ project led by Professor Roger Daly, the cancer program leader at the Monash BDI.

Professor Daly said his research team will use the funds to study two novel proteins linked to the development of triple negative breast cancer.

“This is a particularly aggressive type of cancer and there are no effective treatments to stop its progression. The two proteins, which also appear to have a role in colon and pancreatic cancers, work together synergistically as an ‘evil team’ to make breast cells highly cancerous,” Professor Daly said.

“Our aim is to develop a therapeutic approach that blocks the interaction between the two proteins as a way to prevent or slow the disease. We believe our research work could benefit patients within five to ten years,” Professor Daly said.

Project grant funding for the Centre of Excellence in Prehospital Emergency Care being led by Monash will facilitate collaborative research projects and build capacity in emergency medical services research. The Centre’s goal is to generate knowledge to optimise emergency service delivery and improve health outcomes given the ever increasing demand for emergency healthcare.

Research work at the Centre will compare and contrast the care provided for specific clinical conditions by paramedics in ambulance services across Australia, New Zealand and the UK. The centre will be run by Professor Peter Cameron of Monash University’s School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine.

Professor Cameron and his Monash team will work with collaborators from Curtin University of Technology; Ambulance Victoria; Flinders University; the SA Ambulance Service; St John Ambulance Western Australia; Royal Perth Hospital; the University of Western Australia; Baker IDI Health and Diabetes Institute; and the University of Warwick in the UK.

The five highest value Monash University NHMRC funded-research projects announced include:

  1. ASPREE completion project – impact of aspirin usage for older people ($4,796,724). This project, the largest clinical trial conducted in Australia involves 19,000 participants and will determine whether a daily low dose of aspirin prevents disease in healthy older people. It received the highest level of individual project funding in the NHMRC grants. The project is being led by Professor John McNeil in collaboration with other Monash researchers and the University of Tasmania. Professor McNeil said that for an ageing society like Australia the ASPREE trial is “timely research that promises to deliver significant health and cost benefits and advantage other research outcomes.”
  2. Centre of Excellence in Prehospital Emergency Care ($2,499,626). Led by Professor Peter Cameron in collaboration with researchers and institutions across Victoria and in South Australia, Western Australia and Monash Warwick Alliance partner, the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom.
  3. The cardiac arrest trial ($2,069,878). Led by Professor Stephen Bernard of Monash University’s   School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine in collaboration with Ambulance Victoria, Austin Health, Baker IDI and Heart Institute, and the University of Melbourne.
  4. Role of aspirin in prevention of colorectal cancer ($1,725,799). Led by Professor John Zalcberg of Monash University’s School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine in collaboration with Associate Professor Ron Firestein, head of the Centre for Cancer Research at Hudson Institute of Medical Research, the Royal Melbourne Hospital, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, and Harvard Medical School in the United States.
  5. The genetic causes of male infertility ($1,552,224). Led by Professor Moira O’Bryan of Monash University’s School of Biomedical Sciences in collaboration with Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre in the Netherlands, and Washington University, Missouri and the University of Utah. A full list of awardees is available on the NHMRC website.