Congratulations to School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health 2022 NHMRC Ideas grant awardees

Congratulations to School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health's eight National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) awardees. See their grant details below and and see all Monash Faculty winners here.

Associate Professor Michael Gantier has been funded $1,496,654.00 for his project: Therapeutic targeting of TLR7 in autoimmunity

Project description: Autoimmune diseases, which are driven by self-reactive autoantibodies, affect approximately 5% of all Australians. While treatments are available to limit disease progression and morbidity, these are non-curative and can have numerous harmful side-effects. Here, we propose an innovative approach to thwart autoimmune disease by targeting how autoantibodies are generated. We have developed a new class of specific therapeutics that have the potential to help treat diverse autoimmune conditions.

Associate Professor Patrick Western has been funded $1,433,936.00 for his project: Understanding non-genetic inheritance in health and disease

Project description: Eggs provide genetic and non-genetic (epigenetic) information that is critical for offspring development. While we understand how genes transmit instructions that regulate offspring development, epigenetic inheritance is poorly understood. This project will determine how an essential epigenetic mechanism acting in eggs controls formation of tissues in offspring and grand-offspring and how dysregulation of this mechanism results in disease. Outcomes will help understand disease inheritance.

Dr Pouya Faridi has been funded $1,377,141.75 for his project: Determination of “actionable vaccine targets” for breast cancer immunotherapy

Project description: In recent years, immunotherapy brings hopes for treatment of incurable cancer. However, understanding the right target for immunotherapy is critical and challenging. We have developed new technologies and will explore new classes of antigens that can form targets of vaccines and immunotherapy in breast cancer.

Dr Kelly Crossley has been funded $1,240,465.00 for her project: Reducing the burden of respiratory distress after caesarean delivery.

Project description: Compared with vaginally born babies, babies born at term by caesarean section have a higher risk of needing intensive care due to breathing problems soon after birth. We have recently made a major break-through in understanding why and this project will provide the additional information required to identify effective treatments for these otherwise healthy newborns. Ultimately this research will identify approaches and treatments that will reduce the risk or severity of this breathing problem.

Dr Fiona Cousins has been funded $1,125,385.96 for her project: Harnessing the protective effects of Interferon epsilon as a therapeutic for endometriosis

Project description: Endometriosis is a chronic, debilitating condition that affects 1 in 9 menstruators. People with the disease have limited treatment options and there is no cure. A defective immune response is one of the causes of the disease. This project aims to investigate a new immunomodulator, interferon epsilon (IFNε), which may exert protective effects against the development of endometriosis. We will investigate whether IFNε can be used as an innovative treatment for endometriosis.

Associate Professor Connie Wong has been funded $1,104,980.00 for her project: Unravelling the brain-lung communication pathway as a novel way of improving stroke outcome

Project description: Lung infection is highly prevalent and often deadly in patients with stroke, raising the possibility of weakened antibacterial responses in the lung after stroke. The focus of this project is to investigate the mechanisms underlying impaired lung immunity following stroke onset. We will also assess the potential of exosome content as biomarkers to identify high-risk stroke patients who will require antibacterial therapy to limit infection development and improve patient outcomes.

Associate Professor Michelle Tate has been funded $1,062,685.00 for her project: Targeting pyroptosis to limit the severity of influenza virus infections

Project description: Highly pathogenic influenza A virus infections are associated with highly mortality rates. To facilitate the development of improved treatments for severe IAV infections, this project will advance our fundamental knowledge of the mechanisms by which the host and virus interact and elucidate how the host's immune system can be therapeutically modulated to limit disease severity. These studies are crucial to ensure we are better prepared for the next pandemic.

Professor Megan Galbally has been funded $630,913.20 for her project: Transforming the management of perinatal depression through precision medicine to improve outcomes for women and children

Project description: Pharmacogenetics have increasingly been shown to be relevant to the understanding of outcomes associated with antidepressants. By using a study of 862 women, including 158 taking antidepressants in pregnancy, we propose to use a new novel approach to elucidate how better to manage depression in pregnancy for women and also predict vulnerability to adverse impacts for the infant following antidepressant exposure and whether this can be attributed to variation in pharmacogenetics.