The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has awarded QIMR Berghofer more than $29 million for research into tropical diseases and immunotherapy.
This means that QIMR Berghofer-led programs have captured more than 30 per cent of all funding in this award scheme, making it the lead medical research institute for program awards in the recent round of NHMRC funding.
Infectious diseases expert Professor James McCarthy and his collaborators – including three research groups from QIMR Berghofer – will receive more than $20 million over the next five years for research into malaria, Group A Streptococcus and parasitic worm infections.
“These insidious diseases infect hundreds of millions of people worldwide each year. Group A Streptococcus is also a major cause of death in Australia’s indigenous communities,” Professor McCarthy said.
“We will use this funding to develop new control strategies to combat and eliminate these diseases, including testing new vaccines and drugs.”
The research will involve collaborators at James Cook University, Menzies School of Health Research, The University of Queensland, and Griffith University.
In another program award, led by Professor Mark Smyth, three research groups from QIMR Berghofer – in collaboration with David Thomas from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research – have been granted more than $9 million over five years for research into immunotherapy.
Immunotherapy is revolutionising the field of cancer research and treatment. It works by training the immune system to detect and destroy cancer cells.
“We will use this grant to improve our understanding of the highly complex interrelationships between the immune system, infection and cancer, and to obtain genetic signatures that predict therapeutic responses,” Professor Smyth said.
“Our end goal is to get more successful combination immunotherapy treatments to the patients, with fewer side effects.”
The two program grants bring the total NHMRC funding awarded to QIMR Berghofer in the current round to $45 million.
QIMR Berghofer’s Director and CEO, Professor Frank Gannon, said the funding was a major endorsement of QIMR Berghofer’s research.
“As well as the two program grants announced by Minister Greg Hunt, nine of our scientists have been awarded fellowships and the Institute has received 12 grants for specific research projects,” Professor Gannon said.
“These results highlight the quality of our researchers and the esteem in which their work is held, both in Australia and overseas.
“This funding from the NHMRC will help us to continue our world-leading program of research into cancer, infectious diseases, mental health conditions and chronic disorders.”