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QIMR Berghofer scientists secure $21M from NHMRC

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute has been awarded more than $21 million in NHMRC grants for vital research on diseases ranging from breast and brain cancers to depression, arthritis, cystic fibrosis and HIV.

Among grants to QIMR Berghofer scientists is $2.4 million over four years for Professor Nick Martin and his genetic epidemiology team to join an international study on major depressive disorder.

The study – to involve 20,000 participants – aims to develop better treatments including more targeted therapies for individuals with depression.

Dr Nic Waddell will receive almost $1.2 million for a major study into malignant mesothelioma, investigating mutations, biomarkers and potential new therapeutic targets for the aggressive asbestos-related cancer.

QIMR Berghofer Deputy Director Professor Greg Anderson says securing NHMRC funding for more than 20 separate projects is a great result for the Institute.

“The successful projects are spread across all QIMR Berghofer’s key areas of research focus – cancer, infectious diseases, mental health and complex disorders,” Professor Anderson said.

“The Institute’s success rate in what has been a particularly competitive funding round is over 40% higher than the national average.

“That really highlights the quality of our scientists and the esteem with which their work is held both in Australia and overseas.”

Dr Fares Al-Ejeh will continue his research on triple negative breast cancer with a $500,000 grant over three years to develop a diagnostic tool and investigate targeted therapies.

Dr Margie Wright will undertake a five year imaging study examining the development of the brain during adolescence, which is a risk period for the emergence of psychiatric disorders.

Other important research projects were funded in a range of areas including liver disease, cancer immunotherapy and bone marrow transplantation.

Four QIMR Berghofer scientists were awarded Early Career Fellowships by the NHMRC.

They include Dr Yi Lu, who will investigate the interplay of genes and environment in the mental health of children and adolescence.

In all, the Federal Government today announced $540 million in NHMRC funding for medical researchers to generate new discoveries across Australia.