NHMRC funding success at the Monash Health Translation Precinct

Monash Health Translation Precinct (MHTP) researchers from the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS) and Hudson Institute of Medical Research have been successful in the latest round of NHMRC grants.

Together, our researchers were awarded eight NHMRC Investigator Grants totalling almost $13.8M, with SCS receiving the second highest number of grants for the Faculty.

Dr David Scott from the Department of Medicine received funding for his research into musculoskeletal health in Australia's growing population of older adults with obesity. By 2025, almost 40 per cent of Australians aged 65 and older will be obese - a condition that is associated with poor physical function, and is a risk factor for disabling knee and hip osteoarthritis.

Typically, Obesity has protected older adults against osteoporotic fractures; however, Dr Scott’s research has shown that this protective effect is lost for those with sarcopenia - an age-related deterioration in skeletal muscle mass and function - making treatment challenging.

Current weight loss strategies for obese older adults, such as energy-restricted weight loss and bariatric surgery, result in muscle and bone declines or substantial losses of bone mineral density (BMD) and lean mass, meaning they can cause sarcopenia and osteoporosis. While exercise and nutritional supplementation may partly reduce weight loss-associated declines in BMD and lean mass, a proven effective intervention for preventing bone loss - high-intensity resistance and impact training (HiRIT) - has not been trialled in obese older adults.

Barriers to participation of impact exercises during HiRIT include difficulty in prescribing and monitoring appropriate doses, and concerns regarding risk for development or progression of osteoarthritis.  Precise, real-time measurement of impact exercise may address these barriers, and ensure exercise is sufficiently osteogenic to improve bone health.

Dr Scott's research program, supported by this Investigator Grant (EL2) over the next five years, will trial scalable exercise programs which can be translated to home, community, and clinical settings. These programs will specifically target improved physical function in sarcopenic obese older adults, prevention of bone and muscle loss in older bariatric surgery patients, and maximising bone health in older patients with osteoarthritis.

"l'm extremely grateful to have the opportunity to continue this research program at Monash and would like to acknowledge all that have supported it including the SCS, my collaborators and mentors, and particularly Professor Peter Ebeling and the Bone and Muscle Research Group." Dr Scott said.

Dr Calum Roberts from the Department of Paediatrics is the recipient of an Investigator Grant (EL1) for his research into optimising respiratory support for preterm babies.

Worldwide, more than 15 million babies are born prematurely each year. Premature babies have underdeveloped lungs, and are at risk of death and life-long complications due to breathing problems. For many babies, the breathing support they receive is not effective enough, or inadvertently harmful.

Dr Roberts’ research will assess how we can provide better breathing support for these babies soon after birth, and improve their long-term outcomes.

Upon receiving the grant Dr Roberts said, "It is fantastic to receive this funding from the NHMRC. Establishing breathing effectively is critical for premature babies, and we still do not know the best way to support their breathing soon after birth. This funding will allow us to study new, more effective ways of supporting the breathing of these vulnerable babies, and reduce their risk of long-term complications from being born too early."

Congratulations to all our grant recipients

Hudson Institute (Department of Molecular and Translational Science)

Elizabeth Hartland

Professor Elizabeth Hartland - Towards precision microbiology: new strategies to combat bacterial infection

Department of Medicine

David Scott

Dr David Scott - Optimising Exercise Interventions for Maintaining Physical Function, Bone and Muscle Health in Older Adults with Obesity and Osteoarthritis

Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Beth Allison

Dr Beth Allison - Improved cardiovascular outcomes for growth-restricted infants

Caroline Gargett

Professor Caroline Gargett - Translating Endometrial Stem/Progenitor Cell Discoveries to Transform Women's and Girls' Gynaecological Health Outcomes

Ben Mol

Professor Ben Mol - Towards sustainable evidence-based pathways in perinatology and reproductive medicine: evidence synthesis in women's health on a global scale.

Graeme Polglase

Associate Professor Graeme Polglase - Reducing the consequences of prematurity by improving the transition at birth

Department of Paediatrics

Claudia Nold

Associate Professor Claudia Nold - Interventional Immunology in Early Life Diseases

Calum Roberts

Dr Calum Roberts - Life in Transition: Optimising Early Respiratory Support in the Preterm Infant