Researchers at The University of Western Australia have received $6 million in Federal Government funding to tackle issues ranging from diabetes to stillbirth, heart health, eye disease and the mental health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTIQ+ young people.
A total of 11 UWA projects were awarded funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) announced yesterday by Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.
Practitioner Fellowships of $585,270 were awarded to Professor David Mackey, from UWA’s Centre for Ophthalmology and Visual Science; and Professors Timothy Davis and Leon Flicker, from UWA’s Medical School.
Professor Mackey, Managing Director of Lions Eye Institute and Chair of UWA Ophthalmology will use the grant to discover new genes responsible for glaucoma and myopia. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness and is inherited while myopia is a risk factor for glaucoma, with rates rising.
“Our research will help identify new drugs to treat these diseases and develop family-screening strategies to find undiagnosed cases of glaucoma before it affects sight,” he said. “This will allow early intervention. In addition, I will assess new technologies to help those already visually impaired.”
Professor Tim Davis will carry out community-based studies of diabetes and infectious diseases while Professor Flicker will investigate maximising health for older Australians.
Research Fellowships were awarded to Professor Alistair Forrest, Associate Professor Aleksandra Filipovska and Associate Professor Oliver Rackham, from UWA and the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research.
Professor Alistair Forrest, a former Australian Eureka Prize recipient, will receive $717,275 over the next five years to continue his research in genetic screening of cancers. His work establishing a world-class single-cell sequencing facility will place Western Australia at the forefront of advanced cancer research.
Professor Aleksandra Filipovska received $792,275 for her work targeting mitochondrial dysfunction, which can contribute significantly to a range of diseases including metabolic disorders, neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity and cancer.
Associate Professor Oliver Rackham will receive $649,175 over the next five years for his research in synthetic biology which enables molecules and cells to be programmed with new functions. His laboratory is investigating genetic approaches for the discovery of new antibiotics and therapeutics to correct genetic diseases.
Early Career Fellowships were awarded to Tina Lavin ($327,192), from UWA’s School of Population and Global Health to help reduce stillbirth in high-risk populations worldwide; Nicola Bondonno ($417,192), from UWA’s School of Biomedical Sciences to explore how flavonoid (found in plant foods) breakdown affects improvements in heart health; and Dr Edward Litton ($193,596), from UWA’s Medical School, to improve outcomes for critically ill patients treated in intensive care.
Under the category of targeted call for research into Indigenous social and emotional wellbeing, Dr Ashleigh Lin, from UWA-affiliated Telethon Kids Institute, was also awarded $716,301 over three years to study the emotional and social wellbeing and mental health needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTIQ+ young people.
David Stacey (UWA Media and Public Relations Manager) (+61 8) 6488 3229 / (+61 4) 32 637 716