Centre researcher secures rare funding grant from US health body

16 November 2012

Tony Weiss' research is in the fields of human tropoelastin and synthetic human elastin biomaterials.
Tony Weiss' research is in the fields of human tropoelastin and synthetic human elastin biomaterials.

Researcher Professor Tony Weiss from the University of Sydney's Charles Perkins Centre has received a prestigious USA National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding grant - one of the few awarded to an Australian researcher in recent years.

The NIH grant - $1.3 million towards further work on multi-functional tropoelastin-silk biomaterial systems - acknowledges Professor Weiss's research and international leadership in the fields of human tropoelastin and synthetic human elastin biomaterials, which have been found to augment and repair human tissues.

The grant will allow Professor Weiss to develop more sophisticated blends of elastin and silk, which have also been found to direct tissue growth. Professor Weiss will continue to work with principal collaborator Professor David Kaplan at Tufts University in the US.

The NIH recognises less than one in 10 US-based top university researchers but far fewer awards make their way overseas, including Australia.

This is Professor Weiss's second prestigious grant in recent months - it was preceded by similar recognition jointly with colleagues at MIT for scalable units used for building vascularised cardiac grafts.

The Charles Perkins Centre brings together academics from a range of disciplines to turn research into prevention, diagnosis and treatment of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The only multidisciplinary research centre of its kind, the Charles Perkins Centre approaches these critical health issues from the perspective of researchers in economics, physiology, philosophy, dietetics, law and numerous other disciplines.

Professor Weiss's research into elastic biomaterials, which enables us to replace damaged blood vessels, repair the heart and fix damaged skin, is important for treating the diseases that often arise in people with diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases.

Professor Weiss espouses the collaborative work of the Charles Perkins Centre and is currently listed on 11 collaborative grants. He is also a prolific inventor with 22 awarded international patents.

In addition to his Centre post, Professor Weiss is concurrently Professor of Biochemistry in Molecular Bioscience in the Faculty of Science and the Bosch Institute in the Sydney Medicine School. He is also collaborating with the University's Faculty of Engineering and IT, and holds an honorary appointment in Cardiology at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

The Weiss Laboratory at the University of Sydney is funded through a combination of many international and national collaborative research grants and enjoys the contributions of a fine team of competitively placed postdoctoral researchers, postgraduate students and technical staff.

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