10 December 2019

NMolecular biology 500x500.jpgine University of South Australia researchers have collectively been awarded $7.6 million from the Federal Government to help improve the health of all Australians.

The latest round of National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding for successful UniSA projects starting in 2020 will focus on treating heart disease, a range of cancers, schizophrenia, wound healing, toxic chemicals, and finding the right mix of work, rest and exercise.

The successful recipients are:

  • Associate Professor Albert Juhasz ($1.39 million) who will investigate how man-made PFAS chemicals used in a variety of industries are absorbed into the bloodstream and what amounts pose a health threat. His study will focus on five PFAS chemicals commonly found in firefighting foams;

  • Professor Janna Morrison ($1 million) who will explore new therapeutic treatments for heart disease, based on the physiology of some animals who have the capacity to “spontaneously heal” damaged hearts by producing new cardiac cells. Prof Morrison’s team will explore whether changing the expression of a specific molecule can restore the heart to a healthy state;

  • Dr Dorothea Dumuid ($951,708) who will develop software to find the optimal balance of daily activities (sleeping, screen time, working and exercise) in a 24-hour period to achieve the healthiest lifestyle;

  • Professor Allison Cowin ($801,985) who will use a groundbreaking approach to develop an injectable antibody therapy that heals burns from the “inside out”. If successful, this therapy will reduce scarring associated with severe burn injuries;

  • Professor Stuart Pitson ($795,650) who hopes to identify the factors which trigger a relapse of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) among patients. Prof Pitson’s study will target new therapies to be used in combination with existing treatment approaches to prevent disease relapse in AML;

  • Associate Professor Quenten Schwarz ($722,700) whose study will look at the molecular pathway that controls the development of a specific neuron that is deficient in schizophrenia patients. The study will provide insights into potential new treatments for the mental disorder;

  • Professor Angel Lopez ($661,237) who will explore new treatments for myelofibrosis, a bone marrow disorder in elderly patients, that improve response rates and do not have side effects. Current therapies are not effective in addressing the pain and fatigue;

  • Associate Professor Michael Samuel ($623,580) whose team will investigate how breast cancer hijacks normal healthy cells to help its spread around the body, in a process that often leads to cancer-related death.

  • Professor Greg Goodall ($650,060) who will explore a previously unrecognised function of microRNAs, genetic regulators that play an influential role in the development of cancer. His team plans to develop an online prediction tool to identify microRNA sites.

For more information about each project or to arrange interviews, please email Candy Gibson from UniSA’s press office.

The funding is part of a national pool of $437 million for 495 groundbreaking health and medical research projects across Australia aimed at delivering better treatments, diagnosis and care.

Media contact: Candy Gibson office +61 8 8302 0961 mobile: +61 434 605 142
email: candy.gibson@unisa.edu.au

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