$54 million to help take on global health challenges

9 Nov 2015

The National Health and Medical Research Council has awarded a total of almost $54 million to 84 projects, fellowships and centres at The University of Queensland.

Youth mental illness, musculoskeletal conditions, lung disease in children, neurodegenerative disease, cerebral palsy and better diagnosis and treatment of melanomas are among the raft of health issues that UQ researchers will tackle, thanks to the new NHMRC funding.

In a nationwide announcement of competitive research funding today (9 November), the NHMRC also revealed it would fund two new collaborative centres of research excellence at UQ.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Robyn Ward said the UQ research would address a broad and important range of health issues.

“Many of the projects focus on pressing health problems, for example - the rise of drug-resistant and life-threatening urinary tract infections,” Professor Ward said.

“Others offer great hope for a better world, including a project that is already on the path towards giving doctors the ability to trigger the growth of new cardiac muscle in patients after a heart attack.

“The NHMRC’s large investment here speaks to UQ’s extremely high standard of research. On behalf of the University’s senior executive, I congratulate all our researchers whose projects were successful in this funding round.”

Professor Ward said it was a coup that UQ and the School of Medicine would become home to two new national Centres of Research Excellence, each of which would receive more than $2 million in NHMRC funding over five years.

“One of these centres will focus on the study of skin cancers, and the other on better use of antibiotics,” Professor Ward said.

“We are delighted that UQ will collaborate with the Cancer Council Queensland, Queensland University of Technology, the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and the University of Sydney in the skin cancer centre, under the leadership of Professor Peter Soyer."

Professor Jason Roberts will lead the antibiotic-focused centre, which will bring together national and international collaborators.”

A total of 47 NHMRC Project Grants were awarded to UQ, worth more than $31.7 million.

This year UQ was awarded its largest funded Project Grant to date - Professor Kwun Fong from UQ’s School of Medicine ($3.032 million) will research strategies for improving the effectiveness of lung cancer screening.

UQ was awarded more than $14 million over five years for 30 new fellowships, making the university the third most-funded in Australia in terms of fellowships.

UQ also received four NHMRC Development Grants, totalling $3 million.

In the inaugural year of the NHMRC-National Natural Science Foundation of China scheme, UQ was successful in its single funding application.

Professor Chen Chen from the School of Biomedical Sciences will receive $598,305 over five years of his project, which aims to develop methods for early prediction of the risks of frequently occurring sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy and thereby reduce diabetes-induced blindness.

A full list of successful applicants can be found here.

Media: Fiona Cameron, f.cameron2@uq.edu.au, +61 7 3346 7086.