Congratulations to our successful NHMRC Fellows

NHMRC Fellows from left to right: Professor Anthony Purcell, Dr David Stroud, Dr Chen Li, Associate Professor Roger Pocock, Associate Professor Max Cryle and Professor Kate Denton

The latest National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Fellowships awarded to researchers from Monash University’sBiomedicine Discovery Institute(BDI) will help ensure the university remains at the forefront of ground-breaking research that will improve the lives of Australians.

Six Monash BDI researchers were successful in their Fellowship applications, securing $3.5 million to fund research which will tackle several national health priority areas, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, immune responses, obesity and antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

A full list of grant recipients is available on the NHMRC website.

Professor John Carroll, Director of the Monash BDI, said: “I congratulate our six NHMRC Fellows who were awarded funding in the latest round of announcements. This success is testament to the quality of the research carried out by our scientists.”

The Monash BDI 2017 NHMRC Fellows:

  • Professor Kate Denton was awarded a Principal Research Fellowship for her research titled: Targeting Prevention and Treatment of Hypertensive Cardiovascular Disease. Hypertension, high blood pressure, is a major global health burden. It contributes to heart disease, stroke and kidney failure, and as such is a major cause of premature death worldwide. Advances in the treatment of hypertension has meant that more people are living with disabilities associated with cardiovascular disease. Professor Denton’s work focuses on identifying new treatments to prevent the devastating effects of hypertension on organ function to improve quality of life in men and women.
  • Professor Anthony Purcell was awarded a Principal Research Fellowship for his research titled: Understanding the complexity of antigen presentation. Professor Purcell has developed and established the use of mass spectrometry to identify and quantitate ligands of antigen presenting molecules to understand the breadth of immune responses in a variety of human disease states including autoimmunity, cancer, infection and allergy. By embedding the technology in disease focussed research programs, Professor Purcell will define the molecular bases of these diseases and the important immunological targets that will provide new avenues for therapeutic development and vaccines.
  • Associate Professor Roger Pocock was awarded a Senior Research Fellowship for his research titled: Decoding mechanisms of brain-intestinal communication.  Obesity is a worldwide concern to human health. Research into how fat is regulated in the body may provide new therapeutic options. It is not well understood how signals from the brain control fat storage. Associate Professor Pocock has recently identified a gene that is important for the communication between the brain and the intestine in the control of fat levels. As such, his work will enable a better understanding of this phenomenon.
  • Associate Professor Max Cryle was awarded a Career Development Fellowship for his research titled: Improving on nature: diversifying glycopeptide antibiotics to kill the bacterial pathogen Staphylococcus aureus. Many bacteria have become resistant to existing antibiotics and there is an urgent need for new antibiotics and strategies to combat them. Associate Professor Cryle’s research centres on the class of antibiotics that includes the last resort therapy vancomycin. He aims firstly to develop novel ways to kill bacteria with these antibiotics, and subsequently to understand and re-engineer the ways in which these antibiotics are produced. Ultimately, this will enable Associate Professor Cryle’s team to develop new antibiotics to kill dangerous bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus.
  • Dr David Stroud was awarded a Career Development Fellowship for his research titled: Systems approaches to understanding mitochondrial function and dysfunction in disease. Mitochondria produce the energy for our bodies. Defects in this process cause mitochondrial disease, which affects at least 1/5000 people. Diagnosis is often inconclusive and few if any effective treatments exist. Dr Stroud’s research will use state of the art CRISPR gene-editing tools to make disease models mimicking the different types of mitochondrial disease. These will be coupled with quantitive proteomics to understand how mitochondria function, identify new disease genes and develop new drugs.
  • Dr Chen Li was awarded a CJ Martin Early Career Fellowship for his research titled: Harnessing systems biology by integrating proteomics and immunopeptidomics to understand prostate cancer carcinogenesis, diagnosis and treatment. Dr Li’s proposal aims to create systematic profiles to proteomic compositions of prostate normal, and cancer cells, and utilise such data to develop innovative systems biology models that will enable accurate prediction of tumour-associated antigen (TAA) presentation for both aggressive and nonaggressive prostate cancer. The outcomes of this project will generate urgently needed knowledge for understanding TAA presentation and contribute to identification of tractable targets for vaccine development. Dr Li’s fellowship will allow him to work overseas with Professor Ruedi Aebersold at the ETH Zürich for two years and then to return to Australia to work with Professor Anthony Purcell at the Monash BDI for a further two years.

Congratulations to each of these researchers on their NHMRC Fellowship success.