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Medicine moves forward with NHMRC funding


19 October 2012

Federal Minister for Health, Tanya Plibersek announced the latest NHMRC grants at the University of Sydney today.
Federal Minister for Health, Tanya Plibersek announced the latest NHMRC grants at the University of Sydney today.

Helping people lose weight effectively, predicting antibiotic resistance and preventing kidney failure are among the aims of major medical research programs to receive funding in the latest round of National Health and Medical Research Council grants, announced by the federal Minister for Health, Tanya Plibersek at the University of Sydney today.

More than one hundred University of Sydney research projects have been recognised this year, sharing a total of $66.7 million for grants, fellowships, equipment and international collaborations.

Highlights include:

Professor Bruce Neal, Sydney Medical School and George Institute, leads a randomised trial awarded $3.4 million to determine the effects of salt reduction on vascular disease. Studying more than 700,000 people over four years the study will record the impact of salt reduction on key health outcomes including the risk of stroke and heart attack.

Associate Professor Amanda Sainsbury-Salis, Sydney Medical School has been awarded a fellowship of $590,785 to determine the effects of the body's 'famine reaction' to losing weight. The reaction is the body's common response to dieting which increases hunger and can cause loss of muscle and bone mass. The research will look at how to block it and help more people diet successfully.

Professor Sally Tracy, Sydney Nursing School, leads a research project awarded $657,430 to study amniotic fluid to improve diagnoses of dystocia. Labour dystocia is a serious problem experienced during childbirth and is one of the main indications for emergency caesarean section, the use of forceps or vacuum delivery.

Professor Deborah Schofield, Sydney Medical School, leads a project awarded $609,900 looking at the future health of the Australian population which threatens to keep more informal carers out of employment and diminish their living standards. It will explore the impact of interventions that could improve the health of the population and increase the employment of carers.

(L-R) University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence, Federal Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek, CEO of the NHMRC Professor Warwick Anderson .
(L-R) University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence, Federal Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek, CEO of the NHMRC Professor Warwick Anderson .

Professor Vlado Perkovic, Sydney Medical School and George Institute, leads a joint Chinese-Australian trial on the treatment of nephropathy, one of the most common causes of kidney failure in Australia and worldwide. The team received $2.6 million to determine the effects of steroid therapy on this condition, and could potentially prevent many people from developing kidney failure in the future.

Professor Tania Sorrell, Sydney Medical School and Director of the University's Emerging Infections and Biosecurity Institute, received $567,768 to study how the fungus Cryptococci crosses from the blood stream into the brain. It causes meningitis and brain infection, affecting over one million patients with AIDS annually, especially in developing countries, with more than 600,000 deaths.

Professor Guy Marks, Sydney Medical School and Woolcock Institute, has secured $3.4 million for a project to be conducted in Vietnam, a country with a high prevalence of tuberculosis. It will test a new form of an old intervention, namely community-wide screening for tuberculosis by testing sputum. The project has the potential for a giant leap forward towards the elimination of tuberculosis as a global health problem.

Professor Marks is part of the University's Sydney Emerging Infections and Biosecurity Institute. Headed by Professor Sorrell, the Institute was created in 2009, in the context of the swine flu epidemic, as a cross-disciplinary response to the lack of research in the area of infectious diseases.

The minister has announced $652 million for 1141 grants for ground-breaking medical research across Australia.


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