Australia’s University of Queensland (UQ) has secured $13.95 million (about $10.7 in U.S. dollars) over five years from the the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to address major global health challenges, primarily cerebral palsy (CP) and stillbirths.
The NHMRC is Australia’s leading expert body for supporting health and medical research — developing health advice for Australians, health professionals, and governments — as well as providing advice on ethical behavior in healthcare and the conduct of health and medical research.
NHMRC funding supports research across the full spectrum of health and medical investigation, ranging from basic science to clinical, public health, and health services research.
Slightly less than $5 million of the grant will be used to establish two Centres for Research Excellence, one to focus on cerebral palsy and the other on reducing stillbirths.
UQ Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Prof. Robyn Ward also explained in a press release that the Australasian Cerebral Palsy Clinical Trials Network will receive AU$2.49 million in grant funding over five years, noting that cerebral palsy is the most common childhood physical disability, with one in 500 children affected.
A progressive disease, CP also imposes a significant ongoing healthcare burden through adulthood. The UQ/NHMRC Cerebral Palsy Centre’s central objective will be to improve health outcomes for all children with cerebral palsy by refining early detection methods and determining the best interventions and treatments.
The CP centre will be led by UQ Faculty of Medicine researcher Prof. Roslyn Boyd, who will collaborate with researchers from the University of Notre Dame, the Hudson Institute of Medical Research, CSIRO Molecular and Health Technologies, Curtin University, the Monash Medical Centre, the University of Sydney, and the University of Auckland.
UQ will also host the new Centre for Research Excellence in Stillbirth, which was awarded $2.49 million in grant funding over five years. The center will focus on reducing the 3,000 stillbirths that occur annually in Australia, Ward said. Up to 60 percent of stillbirths are unexplained, and stillbirth rates in Australia haven’t improved in more than 20 years. The new stillbirth center aims to improve those figures and provide support for the families, friends, and medical professionals affected by these tragic deaths.
The center will be headed by the Mater Research Institute-University of Queensland’s Associate Professor Vicki Flenady, who will collaborate with researchers from Griffith, La Trobe, Monash and Sydney universities, the Hudson Institute of Medical Research, the Kolling Institute of Medical Research, and the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute.
In addition to funding for the cerebral palsy and stillbirth centers, UQ researchers were awarded an additional AU$6.67 million shared across 15 fellowships in research areas including medicine, molecular biosciences, public health, chemistry, and the human brain. Four UQ researchers were awarded research fellowships, and will share $3,155,445 in grant funding:
- Prof. David Fairlie (Institute for Molecular Bioscience)
- Prof. Richard Lewis (Institute for Molecular Bioscience)
- Prof. Gita Mishra (School of Public Health )
- Prof. Linda Richards (Queensland Brain Institute)
Additionally, nine UQ researchers were awarded early career fellowships and will share $2.77 million in funding over four years, and four UQ researchers received NHMRC development grants and will receive a combined total funding of $2.27 million.
Finally, UQ researchers Prof. Jason Roberts (School of Medicine) and Prof. David Paterson (UQ Centre for Clinical Research) have been awarded practitioner fellowships, and will share $745,662 of the NHMRC grant funding over five years.