Congratulations to our NHMRC grant recipients

Monash University was awarded the largest share of the National Health and Medical Research Funding announcements made over the weekend, and researchers from the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine featured heavily. They’ll put their funding to great use across projects that deal with diverse and important health topics including blood transfusion safety, helping Australians identify heart attack symptoms, assessing PFAS exposure on firefighters, infectious disease transmission in vulnerable children and methodological research.

Congratulations to all recipients!

Professor Erica Wood, Head of the Transfusion Research Unit, leads a $5 million Synergy Grant that will address Australia’s national transfusion research priorities. Blood transfusions can save lives, but are precious resources and must be used wisely. This research will address important evidence gaps in transfusion practice, and improve outcomes for patients who need transfusion support with red cells, platelets and immunoglobulins made from plasma.

Professor Karin Leder, Head of Infectious Diseases Epidemiology, leads a $3 million Ideas Grant that will inform  her work on the RISE program. Working with communities in informal settlements in Suva, Fiji and Makassar, Indonesia, the research will assess the spread of gastrointestinal pathogens via food, drinking water, hands and other objects. Diarrhoeal disease is a major health issue in areas with poor water and sanitation, and many vulnerable children die each year as a result. Better understanding of the importance of each pathway in the spread of diarrhoeal disease will enable public health authorities to prioritise preventive approaches.

Associate Professor Janet Bray, Associate Director of the Australian Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium - Centre of Research Excellence, leads a $905,000 Partnership Grant, which brings together funding from the Heart Foundation and Victorian Department of Health and Human Services. The project will use Heart Maps from the Heart Foundation to identify areas with a high prevalence of acute cardiac events or heart attacks, then target those communities with education around early symptom identification and calling an ambulance. The team hope to improve the outcomes of people having heart attacks, without the financial loss and unnecessary spike in ambulance call-outs associated with blanket advertising campaigns.

Associate Professor Deborah Glass, from the Monash Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health (MonCOEH), leads a $567,000 grant to explore the effects of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) exposure on firefighter health. Firefighters are at risk of PFAS exposure as the chemicals have been used widely in fire retardants, but the long-term health consequences of exposure are poorly understood. The grant continues the MonCOEH team’s long history of contributing to the health of worker cohorts.

Professor Andrew Forbes, Head of the Research Methodology Division and Biostatistics Unit, leads a $480,000 Ideas Grant exploring cluster randomised trials in public health research. These include stepped wedge study designs, which are particularly useful when investigating the phased introduction of new healthcare policies, and cluster crossover designs, where clusters of participants switch between different interventions over the course of the study. However, despite recent methodological advances in their design and statistical analysis, substantial practical issues complicate their use in real-world trials. Resolving these issues will facilitate increasingly complex and sophisticated trials that pave the way for important evidence-based changes in healthcare practice and policy.