18 October 2011

THE University of Queensland has received $38.1 million in National Health and Medical Research Council Project Grants – one of the largest shares of the funding awarded to institutions across Australia.

In addition, UQ researchers were awarded fellowships worth a further $11.37 million, including seven Research Fellowships worth a total $5.45 million, 10 Early Career Fellowships worth a total $3.16 million and four Career Development Fellowships worth a total $1.64 million.

One researcher from the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, Professor Mike Waters, received four grants and a fellowship in the latest round of funding.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Max Lu congratulated the recipients and thanked the NHMRC for its continued support of Australian medical research.

"Breakthroughs in the prevention, cure and management of diseases and disabilities only come through rigorous and focused research," Professor Lu said.

"The successful UQ projects range from investigating ways to boost the human immune system to improving treatments for childhood burns and seeking a better understanding cerebral palsy.”

"I thank our researchers for the dedication and skills they bring to addressing such a diversity of health and medical problems that currently reduce quality of life and life expectancy.”

UQ was awarded 68 of the 768 NHMRC project grants announced today, with an application success rate of 26.4 per cent – a higher success rate than in either of the two previous years.

UQ’s total Project Grants were more than $9 million higher than last year.

The Federal Government significantly boosted the NHMRC grants this year, with a total $673 million in research funding announced yesterday, compared to $447.5 million last year.

Among the UQ grants announced today, were two Practitioner Fellowships —worth a total $960,316 — and one Translating Research into Practice Fellowship — worth $142,520).

UQ’s largest Project Grant was the $1.122 million multi-centre grant to Dr Kerry-Ann O’Grady’s project to determine the effectiveness of a vaccine in reducing repeated respiratory infections in children. The study is being undertaken at the Queensland Children's Medical Research Institute, within the UQ Faculty of Health Science.

Among the highest-value UQ research funded under the Project Grants scheme were:

- Dr Coral Gartner’s research project, which will test if offering smokers the option of using long-term substitutes for cigarettes will help more smokers to successfully quit ($1.014 million - UQ Centre for Clinical Research).

- Professor Paul Colditz and Professor Matt Sanders will lead a program of research aimed at optimising the development of preterm infants through a tailored Positive Parenting Program - predicting a reduction in child behavioural and emotional problems($996,337 – UQ Centre for Clinical Research and UQ School of Psychology).

- Associate Professor Andrew Barbour will undertake a detailed genetic study of oesophageal cancer, to form an essential basis for identifying genetic signatures of progression, prognosis and treatment response ($957,987 – UQ School of Medicine).

- Professor Jeffrey Lipman’s Step-wise research program may lead to a simple and cost-effective intervention to improve symptoms, clinical cure and survival for patients with severe infections ($915,978 – UQ School of Medicine).

- Professor George Muscat will head a research project investigating the regulation of metabolism and its relationship to diabetes and obesity ($734,760 – Institute for Molecular Bioscience)

UQ researchers who were awarded Research Fellowships were: Professor Richard Lewis, Professor Martin Lavin, Professor Michael Waters, Professor Matt Brown, Professor Sean Grimmond, Professor David Craik and Professor David Fairlie.

UQ researchers who were awarded Early Career Fellowships included:

- Dr Leila Cuttle, whose project seeks to improve the pre-hospital treatment and acute management of burned children ($294,892).
- Dr Linlin Ma, whose research will identify and assess specific modulators of membrane proteins from Australian spider venoms ($322,980).
- Dr Stephen Lambert, who will examine gastro-intestinal viruses in the first two years of life ($324,892).

Media: Fiona Cameron, UQ Communications (07 3346 7086, 0407 113 342)