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Grants recognise international collaborations

Two internationally-renowned QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute geneticists have received NHMRC funding to participate in separate European Union (EU) collaborative research projects—on breast cancer and conduct disorder in children.

The QIMR Berghofer laboratories of Professor Georgia Chenevix-Trench and Professor Nick Martin will each receive almost $500 000 under a program supporting Australian scientists contributing to projects through the EU’s highly competitive research program.

Professor Chenevix-Trench said the aim of her project is to bring together data from a very large number of studies from all over the world to advance global understanding of breast cancer.

“We want to develop ways of predicting which women are at risk of particular types of breast cancer, and if breast cancer develops, what the likely outcome will be,” Professor Chenevix-Trench said.

“The study will analyse data on genetics, lifestyle, environmental factors and mammographic breast density as well as pathologic and clinical data.”

Professor Nick Martin’s project will investigate the interplay between genetic and environmental factors in children with conduct disorder.

“Aggression inflicts a huge personal, psychological and financial burden on affected individuals, their relatives, and society at large and despite large scientific, preventative, and treatment investments, no decrease in aggressive behaviour has been seen,” Professor Martin said.

“This inter-disciplinary collaboration will capitalise on comprehensive long-term studies and recent advances in genetic, biological, epidemiological, and clinical fields.

“The project will provide guidance in optimising current intervention programs and deliver new biological targets to pave the way for new therapies and a decision tree to guide personalised intervention programs.”

QIMR Berghofer received two of the 11 grants announced by the NHMRC today to support international collaborative research to solve global health problems.

NHMRC CEO Professor Anne Kelso said improving human health is a goal shared by all countries and accordingly, health and medical research is truly a global venture.

“By participating in international collaborations like these, Australian researchers share their knowledge and skills and get to work with some of the brightest scientific minds overseas.”

EU Ambassador Sem Fabrizi praised the collaboration and said it was a splendid result for both Australian and European researchers.

The funding from the Federal Government will allow Australian researchers to pool their considerable talents with European experts to address global societal challenges in health, demographic change and wellbeing,” Ambassador Fabrizi said.

Another QIMR Berghofer researcher, Associate Professor Amanda Spurdle, will collaborate on University of Melbourne project “Breast Cancer Risk after Diagnostic Gene Sequencing” which also received NHMRC funding today.