Two leading medical scientists at The University of Western Australia-affiliated Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research have won National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Research Excellence Awards for work to improve treatments for heart and kidney disease.
Perkins deputy director Professor Peter Thompson won the Marshall and Warren award for the most highly innovative and potentially transformative project grant application, which he will use for a study on patients with stable coronary heart disease.
Professor Thompson and his team will follow up on the promising results of a clinical trial to confirm whether a new use for an old drug can reduce heart attacks in patients.
The drug is colchicine, widely used for gout and is known to be low cost and relatively free of side effects. This follow-up study will involve around 5,000 participants, up from around 500 in the earlier trial.
Associate Professor Kevin Pfleger also received the award for the highest ranked career development fellowship application in the biomedical category.
Associate Professor Pfleger’s research focuses on receptors throughout the body that are the target of many currently used medicines. Many treatments result in unexplained effects due to a lack of understanding of their mechanism of action at the molecular level.
His research will generate new knowledge about these mechanisms with a view to improving the effectiveness of current and future medicines, and reducing their side effects.
Perkins Director Professor Peter Leedman was delighted that two of the institute’s top researchers had been recognised for their innovative research which had the potential to transform treatments for serious conditions.
Federal Minister for Health Sussan Ley, who presented 21 awards, said she was proud of Australia’s standing on the international research stage and that these awards recognised some of the leading Australian researchers.
“Australia is a world leader in health and medical research and these researchers will no doubt continue to make a strong contribution to improving the health of all Australians,” Ms Ley said.
“The Coalition Government is committed to enhancing health and medical research in Australia following the landmark Medical Research Future Fund passing the Parliament earlier this year.”
Carolyn Monaghan (Harry Perkins Communications Manager) (+61 4) 48 021 932
David Stacey (UWA Media and Public Relations Manager) (+61 8) 6488 3229 / (+61 4) 32 637 716