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QIMR Berghofer researchers secure Commonwealth NHMRC funds

Seven researchers from QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute have been awarded funding totalling more than $5.8 million in the latest round from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Professor Geoff Hill, who coordinates QIMR Berghofer’s Cancer Research Program, received a Centres of Research Excellence grant worth $2.5 million to continue his important work exploring new ways to treat leukaemia through transplant and cell therapy.

“This grant will allow us to work with centres, both here in Australia and in the United States, to design new treatments in transplant and cell therapy to improve blood cancer outcomes,” Professor Hill said.

Professor James McCarthy, who heads QIMR Berghofer’s Infectious Diseases Program, was again made a Practitioner Fellow in order to continue his work towards eliminating malaria through clinical trials.

“I will use the human malaria challenge system I have developed to test whether new drugs and vaccines for malaria are working sufficiently well to justify their full development,” he said.

Professor McCarthy’s fellowship is valued at more than $412,000.

Dr Nic Waddell, QIMR Berghofer Medical Genomics group leader, received a Research Fellowship worth more than $700,000 to continue her work identifying mutations in the DNA of tumour cells.

“This fellowship will go towards research into a variety of cancer types including mesothelioma, melanoma, oesophageal and breast cancer. Ultimately, we want some of the research findings and approaches to inform patient care and improve patient survival,” she said.

Associate Professor Stacey Edwards was awarded a Research Fellowship worth more than $640,000 to identify how key DNA sequences and genes contribute to breast cancer growth with a particular view to assess their suitability for drug development.

Dr Michelle Lupton received a Boosting Dementia Research Fellowship worth more than $700,000 to investigate the pre-symptomatic stages of Alzheimer’s disease in order to inform the development of treatments that work before the brain is damaged.

Dr Harsha Gowda received a Career Development Fellowship worth more than $430,000 to investigate how tumours become resistant to anti-cancer drugs and develop mechanisms to improve cancer therapeutics.

Arabella Young was made an Early Career Fellow (Overseas) worth more than $400,000 to investigate the mechanism that causes cancer immunotherapies to cause immunity imbalances that particularly affect the endocrine system.

QIMR Berghofer director Frank Gannon said he was delighted to see the Institute’s researchers strongly represented.

He said QIMR Berghofer was awarded the second highest dollar amount for a medical research institute in the latest NHMRC funding round nationally, and was ranked second highest out of all eligible institutions, including universities, in Queensland.

“Scientists rely on this valuable funding to produce cutting-edge research right here in Queensland and it is fantastic to see so many of our researchers have had their important work recognised,” he said.

The NHMRC grant application round committed more than $237 million to medical research across Australia.