Bumper grant round for Sydney
11 November 2005
The University of Sydney has been crowned Australia’s leading research university after securing funds of over $51 million in the latest round of Australian Research Council grants.
Sydney was way ahead of the competition winning a total of 141 grants worth $51.4m in new research funding. This was the largest amount awarded to any university in Australia and over $8m more than its nearest competitor.
The Faculty of Medicine played its part by securing grants worth $4.8m for research into areas such as developing a treatment for colorectal cancer; investigating the role special brain cells play in psychotic disorders; preventing age-related deterioration of eye-sight and identifying the part of the brain that is responsible for physical fitness.
Below is a summary of all the Faculty grants.
Linkage Infrastructure Projects
Professor MR Bennett and Associate Professor WG Gibson
Project Title: Mechanism of transmission of calcium waves by glial cells
Project Summary: Glial cells occupy almost 70% of our brain. Two very important discoveries on glial cells have recently been made, namely that they can convey information in the form of patterns of waves and they possess molecules on their surface membranes that have been implicated in psychotic disorders. One such molecule is called the D2 receptor and its malfunctioning has been implicated in schizophrenia. This research will determine the way in which information is propagated in the glial system of the brain and also illuminate the function of several of the molecules found on the surface of the glial cells.
Professor MJ Davies, Professor PJ Barter and Dr MD Rees
Project Title: Mechanisms and consequences of oxidation of glycosaminoglycans, proteins and proteoglycans by myeloperoxidase derived oxidants
Project Summary: Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) is responsible for the death of 40% of the population of developed and developing countries, including Australia. Rupture of the fibrous cap of atherosclerotic lesions is responsible for most sudden deaths from heart disease and stokes, however, it is a poorly understood process. This research will determine the fundamental chemistry of this process and the data obtained will underpin the development of new preventative and protective strategies to minimise lesion rupture and deaths from this major disease.
Dr BR Henderson
Project Title: Characterisation of APC intracellular trafficking pathways
Project Summary: Colorectal cancer is a serious healthcare issue in Australia with 12,400 new cases diagnosed each year and around 4,700 deaths. APC gene mutations have been shown to be directly linked to the development of this cancer and this research project will address the cell biology of the APC tumour suppressor protein. If successful the project will identify patterns and pathways of movement of APC within cells, which could ultimately help in development of treatments.
Dr AM Kesson and Professor NJ King
Project Title: Regulation of MHC I and ICAM 1 by flavivirus, West Nile
Project Summary: This project investigates the intracellular signalling pathway responsible for the expression of genes MHC I and ICAM 1, which are critical to our immune response. It has been shown that high levels of expression of these genes in flavivirus encephalitis are associated with a survival advantage. This project will provide new information about the mechanisms of expression of these genes as well as information about the interaction of this family of viruses, flavivirus, with the host.
Professor JW McAvoy, Associate Professor RJ Truscott and Dr JA Aquilina
Project Title: Understanding lens aging: the molecular basis of presbyopia
Project Summary: We all know that as we get older, our vision deteriorates. This study investigates age related lens changes with the hope of developing drugs or diets that could alter lens properties and thus delay the need for glasses. Also, data will be used to underpin the development of a flexible intraocular lens (IOL). Hard IOLs are routinely inserted into human eyes following cataract surgery, however, in the future, flexible IOLs based on the properties of young lenses will be used, rather than reading glasses.
Professor BJ Morris
Project Title: Function of a new splicing factor, RBM4
Project Summary: New genomic knowledge is revolutionizing our world. However, our understanding of the basic mechanisms of RNA maturation, especially regulation of splicing, lags significantly behind our understanding of related genomic processes. This project will promote a better understanding of regulatory events involved in controlling gene expression during development and differentiation and the results will also provide new insights into the 'multifunctionality' of cellular proteins, illustrating the importance of RNA studies in molecular medicine.
Dr C Mountford
Project Title: Development of Novel Two dimensional Techniques for Magnetic Resonance In vivo Spectroscopy
Project Summary: Body chemistry alters with functionality, pain, ageing and disease. These changes can be recorded by magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopy (MRS) in a whole body MR scanner. When changes in chemistry can be recorded rapidly, it will be possible to make a definitive diagnosis and in some cases allow the tailoring of treatment on an individual basis. This research will work on overcoming existing barriers to allow two dimensional MRS to be implemented and provide detailed chemical information on human organs in vivo.
Professor RA Dampney and Associate Professor RM McAllen
Project Title: Central command neurons integrating cardiorespiratory drive in exercise
Project Summary: The ability to perform exercise is fundamental to human health and welfare. This ability depends on the co ordination by the brain of respiratory and cardiovascular function, such that the delivery of oxygen to exercising muscles is maximised. This project will test the idea that there is a specific group of neurons in the brain that drive both the respiratory and cardiovascular changes that occur during exercise, and will determine the location and functions of such neurons. Such new knowledge will help us understand how the brain optimises the ability of the body to perform exercise. This is of fundamental importance in sports science, a field in which Australia excels.
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Professor R Booy; Associate Professor CR MacIntyre; Dr D Dwyer; Professor RI Lindley
Discipline of Paediatrics, Children’s Hospital Westmead
Project Title: Economic and Social Benefits of treating and preventing influenza in Aged Care Facilities
Partner Organisation: Moran Health Care Group
Project Summary: Influenza is a deadly issue for the elderly, their carers and the community. It reduces quality of life and productivity through hospitalisation and work absenteeism. By preventing influenza using an antiviral drug for residents and staff in aged care facilities there should be considerable economic and social benefits. This controlled scientific experiment will determine how much disease and death can be averted and provide real data that is critical to planning for an influenza pandemic. It will direct where emphasis should be placed between the control measures of infection control (eg hand washing, masks), vaccination and use of antiviral drugs.
Associate Professor JS Cohn
Heart Research Institute, Central Clinical School
Project Title: Dairy Milk Phospholipids in the Prevention of Atherosclerosis
Partner Organisation: MG Nutritionals
Project Summary: This study will examine the use of dietary phospholipids (PL) preparations in the prevention of arterial atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). In particular it will look at the separation of PL from buttermilk, in support of the therapeutic benefit and commercial development of dietary PL’s and the commercialisation of milk PL as a nutraceutical or functional food.
Dr L Sedger; Dr JW Arthur; Dr DR Booth; Associate Professor G Stewart; Dr R Heard; Ms FC McKay
Discipline of Medicine, WMI, Western Clinical School
Project Title: Molecular response to interferon beta treatment in multiple sclerosis
Partner Organisations: Biogen Idec Australia Pty Ltd and Sydney West Area Health Service
Project Summary: Inteferon beta (IFNb) is the frontline drug for treatment of multiple sclerosis. However, in many patients this expensive drug provides no benefit, resulting in unnecessary, uncontrolled disease progression, and a waste of millions of dollars each year. A common explanation for this treatment failure is the development of neutralising antibodies (NABs). This study will establish the prevalence and effects of NABs in Australian patients, use novel techniques to identify biomarkers for IFNb response, evaluate the diagnostic and therapeutic value of the biomarkers, and develop a new test for NABs.
Dr AJ Ruys; Associate Professor RS Mason
Discipline of Physiology, School of Medical Sciences
Project Title: Oxide Bioceramics for Drug Delivery
Partner Organisation(s): Epitan Limited
Project Summary: Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world with one out of every two Australians developing skin cancer at some stage during their lives. While most people are aware of the dangers of UV, the desire to be fashionable still outweighs health concerns. Melanotan is a novel sunscreen solution: a drug that stimulates the body's natural defence mechanism against UV light. This study will examine the use of alumina and zirconia bioceramics as implantable drug delivery vehicles.
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Linkage Infrastructure Projects
Professor NJ King; Professor IW Dawes; Professor LM Khachigian; Professor KW Beagley; Professor IL Campbell; Professor DI Cook; Profesor J Black; Professor G Halliday; Professor JW McAvoy; Professor NH Hunt; Dr PW Gunning; Professor JD Pollard; Professor M Murray; Professor WJ Britton
Project Title : Advanced Imaging Flow Cytometry Facility for NSW
Partner Organisations: The University of Sydney, The University of New South Wales, The University of Newcastle
Professor RJ Scott; Professor IW Dawes; Professor RJ Trent; Professor NH Hunt; Professor PL Bergquist; Professor MS Baker; Professor PR Dunkley; Dr R Lin; Professor P Gibson; Associate Professor AT Sim
Project Title: Advanced technology for transcriptomics, genomics and gene mapping
Partner Organisations: The University of Newcastle, The University of New South Wales, The University of Sydney, Macquarie University
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