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QIMR Berghofer researchers secure 10.2 million in NHMRC investigator grants

More than $10.2 million dollars in National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Investigator Grants has been awarded to five QIMR Berghofer scientists to further their cutting-edge research in their respective fields of cancer, infectious diseases and mental health.

Investigator Grants are awarded to high-performing researchers at all career stages to allow them flexibility to pursue innovative research and to form collaborations without being restricted to a specific research project.

The grants were announced this week by the Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.

QIMR Berghofer Senior Scientist and head of the Institute’s Cancer Genetics group, Professor Georgia Chenevix-Trench, was awarded more than $2.73 million to find more genetic risk factors for breast cancer.

Professor Chenevix-Trench has been involved in identifying more than 200 regions of the genome that contain variants that increase breast cancer risk. She will use the five-year grant to try to find the remaining genetic risk factors, explore how they work and what genes they influence, and if the information can be used to find new drug treatments for the disease.

Senior Scientist and head of QIMR Berghofer’s Molecular Parasitology group, Professor Don McManus, received $2.71 million to continue his work in developing new strategies to control and eliminate parasitic worm infections that affect the world’s poorest people.

Senior Scientist and the head of the Institute’s Oncogenomics group Professor Nick Hayward will use his $2.23 million grant to explore genetic approaches to increase survival and find potential cures for melanoma.

The head of the Institute’s Cancer program, Associate Professor Steven Lane, will utilise his $1.91 million grant to find clinical treatments that target genetic changes in patients with blood cancer.

Early career researcher, Dr Luke Hearne, was awarded an Emerging Leader Investigator Grant of $645,205 to investigate how deviations in brain networks give rise to symptoms of psychiatric disorders.

QIMR Berghofer’s Director and CEO, Professor Fabienne Mackay, welcomed the funding.

“These are all outstanding leaders in their research fields and these Investigator Grants will ensure they can continue to help lead health and medical advances for all Australians,” Professor Mackay said.

“While a lot of the world’s attention is presently on the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s vital that other potentially life-saving research into other heath conditions and diseases continues as well.”

The Investigator grant round is the NHMRC’s largest funding scheme with grants commencing in January 2021.