04 July 2012

The ARC and industry back UniSA research.Linkage grants to support heart health, women in leadership and new implant technologies.

The University of South Australia has won support for three projects in the Australian Research Council’s latest funding announcements.

Announced this week by Science and Research Minister, Senator Chris Evans, more than $580,000 was awarded for research to be partnered with industry under the Linkage Grant scheme.

Professor Carol Kulik will lead a project to examine the impact of new corporate governance reporting requirements on the management of gender diversity in organisations.

Prof Kulik says the project will look at the effects of the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) requirement for listed companies to report on gender diversity. The research will be undertaken with industry partners Diversity@Work and the Australian Senior Human Resources Roundtable and the Melbourne Business School’s Associate Professor Isabel Metz.

“What we want to explore is how the ASX changes are being felt in the workplace,” Prof Kulik says.

“Even 25 years on from the introduction of Equal Employment Opportunity legislation in Australia, we know that women continue to be under represented in senior leadership.

“Research suggests most organisations have not created gender-inclusive workplaces and managers don’t really understand what sets of practices are effective in managing gender diversity.

“With the ASX requirements in place for more than a year now, we want to explore whether the regulations are acting as an incentive to build the kind of changes and institutional planning that will encourage more gender equity in senior roles and on boards,” Prof Kulik says.

Drawing on change management and human resources theory, the researchers also hope to help organisations by identifying which practices matter and which will support a sustainable and effective approach to gender diversity. 

Working with industry partner Nova Nano Pty Ltd and research colleagues at Flinders University, Professor Nico Voelcker from UniSA’s Mawson Institute will use the $210,000 ARC funding to further develop cardio sensors that can easily detect the signs of imminent heart failure.

Prof Voelcker says the work has the potential to lower the risk of heart failure for the more than 16 per cent of Australians now at risk.

“Cardiovascular disease and heart failure represents a higher social, economic and health burden than any other disease so this research is critically important,” he says.

“The aim of our research is to develop a novel type of sensor that is able to rapidly detect conditions that lead to heart failure by picking up on certain molecules in the blood.

“Our goal is to design a sensor that is portable and easy to use so that this measurement can be performed by an at-risk patient at home. Once they have seen their results they can seek timely, appropriate treatment.”

Professor Hans Griesser, Deputy Director of UniSA’s Ian Wark Research Institute, has won $200,000 to further his research into the development of ultrathin coatings that can be used to coat implants. These special coatings comprise antibacterial chemicals derived from Australian plants.

This next phase of his research will test the coatings in the lab on functioning implants to assess their effectiveness against bacterial attachment and biofilm formation.

“We want to develop a robust chemical methodology for the coating of biomedical devices and implants to protect them against bacterial infections so that we can progress the technology to a stage when it is safe to proceed to a human clinical study,” Prof Griesser said.

“Our goal is to work with industry to develop implants and catheters that can be used in the body with minimal risk of infection, saving lives, post-surgical complications and saving dollars to the health system.”

Prof Griesser’s research is being undertaken with industry partners IMVS, RMS Foundation, and Mathys Orthopaedics Pty Ltd.

The ARC funding will be matched with funds and in-kind support from industry partners totalling almost $850,000.

Media contact: Michèle Nardelli office (08) 8302 0966 mobile 0418 823 673 email mailto:michele.nardelli@unisa.edu.au

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