Centres for Research Excellence funding announced

21 August 2013

World-changing collaborative research in the areas of youth mental health, metabolic health and sleep medicine have seen three research teams at the University of Sydney funded for five years as NHMRC Centres of Research Excellence (CREs).

The three Centres of Research Excellence (CREs) are:

  • The Centre of Research Excellence in Medicines and Ageing
  • Centre of Research Excellence in Optimising Early Interventions for Young People with Emerging Mood Disorder
  • NeuroSleep: the Centre for Translational Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology Centre for Research Excellence

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Jill Trewhella said: "The success of our researchers in winning these Centres of Research Excellence is recognition of their leadership in research that is critical to developing capacity in our health system to serve in areas that are among the highest priorities for our communities - healthy aging, mental health and workplace safety.

"These Centres will play a key role in the University's health and medical research strategy that aims to translate the results of our excellent research into practice and policy for the greater benefit of our communities."

The Centre of Research Excellence in Medicines and Ageing is spearheaded by a cross-institutional collaborative team of University of Sydney academics, including Professor Andrew McLachlan and Associate Professor Sallie-Anne Pearson from the Faculty of Pharmacy and Professor David Le Couteur and Dr Timothy Dobbins from the Sydney Medical School.

Professor McLachlan, who jointly leads the CRE Medicines and Ageing, said the funding would generate quantitative evidence on the use, harms, costs and cost-effectiveness of specific medicines in relation to ageing.

"This information is critical to understanding the balance of benefits and harms of medicines used across the adult lifespan," Professor McLachlan said.

"Medicines have an important place in health and are commonly used for long periods, sometimes life-long. Using medicines wisely requires a careful balance between benefits and harmful effects.

"Currently, there is limited information to guide the use of medicines over a lifetime. Using large linked datasets, the CRE in Medicines and Ageing will generate much needed evidence about real world medicines use to support clinical and pharmaceutical policy decisions."

The Centre of Research Excellence in Medicines and Ageing is a national and international collaboration between researchers at the University of Sydney, Australian National University, The Sax Institute, University of Western Australia, University of NSW, University of Technology Sydney, and the Institute for Clinical and Evaluative Sciences in Canada.

A team led by the Brain & Mind Research Institute received funding for the Centre of Research Excellence in Optimising Early Interventions for Young People with Emerging Mood Disorder.

BMRI Executive Director and lead researcher, Professor Ian Hickie, said the centre would provide unique opportunities to link developing Australian researchers with international leaders in North America, the UK and Europe.

"One of our greatest health challenges is to develop highly-personalised interventions for teenagers and young adults with emerging mood disorders, like major depression or bipolar disorder," he said.

"This new Australian centre combines our national expertise and links it with research innovation and training in key European and North American centres.

The centre will also set up a national databank recording illness outcomes of young people experiencing major mood disorders.

A research team led by Professor Ron Grunstein received funding for NeuroSleep: the Centre for Translational Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology Centre for Research Excellence 

NeuroSleep will build on emerging collaborations between the Woolcock Institute, BMRI (both at The University of Sydney), Monash University Sleep Network and NeuRA (UNSW) to provide the clinical infrastructure and platforms to achieve aims which are beyond any single site.

Professor Grunstein said: "The key aim of NeuroSleep is to improve cognition, workplace safety, and health outcomes in patients with sleep problems such as shift workers, patients with sleep disorders, neurodegenerative and/or mental health problems."

NeuroSleep will be a novel and distinct entity that will build on the success of the current Clinical CRE for Interdisciplinary Sleep Health (CIRUS), completing funding at the end of 2013.

Professor Grunstein said the NeuroSleep group would target three areas: the ageing populations; our 24/7 society and patient care.

"Our goal is to improve brain performance, workplace safety and health outcomes in patients with sleep and circadian dysfunction and in the general community.