16 October 2008

The University of Queensland today received $31 million in National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Project Grants, confirming its position as the state’s top research institution.

UQ secured 61 project grants representing more than 60 percent of the $50 million awarded throughout Queensland.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor David Siddle congratulated the diverse group of UQ researchers who shared in today’s results.

“Many of the successful projects involve collaboration amongst researchers who have expertise in a range of areas, and who come together to use leading-edge research infrastructure in UQ's faculties and institutes,” Professor Siddle said.

“UQ’s record in securing NHMRC Project Grants is strengthening each year and we are delighted with our continuing upwards trajectory.”

On behalf of the Australian government, the NHMRC funds health and medical research conducted at more than 50 universities and institutes around the country.

UQ’s largest grant, worth $1,811,547, went to a team of six researchers – Professor Rod Minchin, Professor Michael Roberts, Dr Darren Martin, Dr Suzanne Smith, Associate Professor Michael Monteiro and Associate Professor Lawrence Gahan.

In collaboration with researchers in the US and UK, this project will investigate the potential for nanomaterials to have adverse effects on human health, a field of research in which many knowledge gaps exist.

The Institute for Molecular Bioscience was again successful in securing NHMRC funding, with Professor Jenny Stow awarded $905,250 to study cytokine secretion.

“Cytokines are chemical messengers released by cells to mount inflammatory responses to fight infections,” Professor Stow said.

“This release must be tightly regulated, as uncontrolled cytokine release is the main cause of ongoing inflammation in arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.”

Professor Stow aims to identify cellular targets for new drug development.

Other UQ projects which received major funding included:

• $506,250 to investigate the development of the cerebral cortex in embryos, which will impact on the prognosis and treatment of developmental brain disorders.
Researcher: Associate Professor Linda Richards

• $491,250 to develop a “nanopatch” that will deposit flu vaccinations under the skin’s surface and make standard vaccines 100 times more potent than conventional syringe injections.
Researchers: Professor Mark Kendall, Dr Germain Fernando and Professor Lorena Brown.

• $481,250 to explore whether children of older fathers are at greater risk of developing disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.
Researchers: Professor John McGrath, Dr Darryl Eyles, Dr Thomas Burne and Professor Emma Whitelaw.

UQ was placed fourth nationally ($31.46 million), after the University of Sydney, the University of Melbourne and Monash University.

Media: Penny Robinson at UQ Communications (07 3365 9723, penny.robinson@uq.edu.au)