Over $43m awarded to Monash researchers in latest round of NHMRC Investigator Grants

Monash University has been awarded more than $43 million in National Health and Medical Research Council Investigator Grants, and a new Centre for Research Excellence, to support the work of more than 30 research leaders.

Better treatments for autoimmune kidney disease and vasculitis, better understanding of the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, improving the efficacy of clinical trials for surgical patients and T cell research are among the projects to receive funding.

The NHMRC also announced a new $2.5 million Centre for Research Excellence to transform outcomes of critically ill patients in ICU (CRE-ICU), to be led by Professor Carol Hodgson from the School of Health and Preventive Medicine and Deputy Director of the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care-Research Centre.

The grants are part of $471.9 million in health and medical research grants announced by Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt. The funding will support hundreds of research leaders and teams around the country to undertake research that will ultimately save lives and make Australians healthier.

Investigator Grants support researchers at any stage of their careers, allowing researchers the flexibility to innovate by taking their research in new directions and forming collaborations.

The grants are focused on the four pillars of health and medical research: biomedical, clinical, public health and health services.

Monash University President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret Gardner AC said the projects to receive funding demonstrate the scale and diversity of Monash research, and the important work being done to support health and medical innovations.

“I am delighted that 31 Monash researchers will share in this significant amount of NHMRC funding, and I congratulate and thank them for the crucial work they are doing to improve the health and wellbeing of our communities,” Professor Gardner said.

“The flexibility and collaboration that this investment allows, as well as the establishment of a new Centre for Research Excellence in ICU, will enable our researchers to explore creative solutions to some of the greatest health challenges we face today.”

Complete list of recipient projects:

A molecular investigation into T cell antigen receptor function and dysfunction in humans’

Professor Jamie Rossjohn

Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences

Awarded:$3,927,015 (Leadership 3)

‘Improving the Impact and Efficiency of Perioperative Clinical Trials’

Professor Paul Myles

Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences

Awarded:$3,241,612 (Leadership 3)

‘New Knowledge and Research Capacity for Health Impacts of Global Environmental Change with Big Data, Novel Approach and New Technology’

Professor Yuming Guo

Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences

Awarded:$2,598,844 (Leadership 1)

‘Gold Electronic Skins for Remote Biodiagnostics’

Professor Wenlong Cheng

Faculty of Engineering

Awarded:$2,348,555 (Leadership 1)

‘Better treatments for autoimmune kidney disease and vasculitis’

Professor Arthur Kitching

Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences

Awarded:$2,297,570 (Leadership 2)

‘Decoding the drivers of food choices towards sustainable self-management of obesity’

Professor Antonio Verdejo-Garcia

Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences

Awarded:$2,248,555 (Leadership 1)

‘Improving evidence synthesis methods to enhance decision making about public health and policy interventions’

Associate Professor Joanne McKenzie

Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences

Awarded:$2,248,555 (Leadership 1)

‘Phosphatases in the pathogenesis of obesity and cancer’

Professor Tony Tiganis

Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences

Awarded:$1,927,015 (Leadership 3)

‘Harnessing the power of diverse data to model population impacts of injury and inform health and social policy’

Professor Belinda Gabbe

Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences

Awarded:$1,885,378 (Leadership 2)

‘Implementation research: Delivering impact at the interface between reproductive and metabolic women’s health’

Professor Helena Teede

Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences

Awarded:$1,870,806 (Leadership 3)

‘Health Risk Assessment of Bushfire Smoke on Children and Pregnancy Outcomes’

Doctor Shanshan Li

Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences

Awarded:$1,570,120 (Emerging Leadership 2)

Reducing Resuscitation Errors

Professor Mark Fitzgerald

Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences

Awarded:$1,500,000 (Leadership 2)

‘Unravelling the Contributions of Sleep Dysfunction to Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia’

Associate Professor Matthew Pase

Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences

Awarded:$1,306,096 (Emerging Leadership 2)

‘Risk and resilience in Alzheimer’s pathogenesis, cognitive decline and clinical disease progression’

Associate Professor Yen Ying Lim

Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences

Awarded:$1,306,096 (Emerging Leadership 2)

‘Mitigating the consequence of preeclampsia for mother and child’

Doctor Kirsten Palmer

Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences

Awarded:$1,285,060 (Emerging Leadership 2)

‘Mitochondria live imaging in mammalian preimplantation embryos’

Doctor Jennifer Zenker

Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences

Awarded:$1,270,120 (Emerging Leadership 2)

‘Genetically defining and pharmacologically exploiting new oncogenic dependencies in Myc-driven lymphoid cancer’

Associate Professor Jake Shortt

Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences

Awarded:$1,228,048 (Emerging Leadership 2)

‘Precise medication use in people with Alzheimer’s disease’

Doctor Yijun Pan

Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Awarded:$650,740 (Emerging Leadership 1)

‘A personalised pharmacogenomic approach to inform autosomal dominant hypocalcaemia treatment’

Doctor Tracy Josephs

Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Awarded:$650,740 (Emerging Leadership 1)

‘Stereo-EEG and precision neuropsychology: optimising epilepsy surgery and minimising neurocognitive risk’

Doctor Andrew Neal

Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences

Awarded:$650,740 (Emerging Leadership 1)

‘Dissecting the impacts of the bacterial host versus plasmid on the AMR burden’

Doctor Margaret Lam

Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences

Awarded:$650,740 (Emerging Leadership 1)

‘Reducing medication-related harm in people living with dementia in residential aged care’ 

Doctor Amanda Cross

Centre for Medicine Use & Safety

Awarded:  $650,740 (Emerging Leadership 1)

‘Improving assisted reproductive technology outcomes – a personalised approach’

Doctor Rui Wang

Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences

Awarded:$650,740 (Emerging Leadership 1)

‘Defining the mechanisms that drive cell competition and plasticity in stomach cancer.’

Doctor Dustin Flanagan

Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences

Awarded:$650,740 (Emerging Leadership 1)

‘Understanding complex I assembly for better diagnosis and future treatment’

Doctor Luke Formosa

Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences

Awarded:$650,740 (Emerging Leadership 1)

‘Healthcare resource utilisation and long term outcomes following critical illness’

Doctor Alisa Higgins

Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences

Awarded:$613,240 (Emerging Leadership 1)

‘Transforming outcomes by investigating integrated treatments for methamphetamine use and trauma’

Doctor Shalini Arunogiri

Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences

Awarded:$450,370 (Emerging Leadership 1)

‘Improving Outcomes after  Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation’ 

Doctor Aidan Burrell

Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences

Awarded:$450,370 (Emerging Leadership 1)

‘Improving Neonatal Resuscitation’

Doctor Douglas Blank

Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences

Awarded:$450,370 (Emerging Leadership 1)

‘Cell Therapies for Newborn Infants: Translating Promise to Benefits‘ 

Doctor Atul Malhotra

Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences

Awarded:$431,671 (Emerging Leadership 1)

Centre for Research Excellence to transform outcomes of critically ill patients in ICU (CRE-ICU)

Led by Professor Carol Hodgson

Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Original article

Congratulations Jamie – NHMRC Investigator grant

Congratulations to Jamie, Head of the Rossjohn / Immune Recognition lab, who has been named as a successful NHMRC Investigator (L3) grant holder  in the recent grant round (funding commencing 2022).

Investigator Grants is NHMRC’s flagship scheme which accounts for 40% of the Medical Research Endowment Account. It consolidates previously separate fellowship and research support into one grant scheme that provides researchers at all career stages with funding for their salary (if required) as well as a research support package over 5 years.

The objective of the Investigator Grant scheme is to support the research program of outstanding investigators at all career stages.

Original article and outcome of funding round available here.

We also extend our congratulations to all other grant awardees.

Listen to Erica’s interview with Vision Australia Radio

Focal Point Podcast – 01 Sept 2021

A weekly program presented by Peter Greco, Focal Point covers services from blindness organisation (Eg. Vision Australia)  and other providers, technology, current affairs, breakthroughs in advocacy campaigns about all manner of challenges and promoting activities and events for people who are blind or vision impaired.

This week Peter Greco is talking to:

1 Isabel Osuna-Gatty – from the National Disability Coordination Office

2 Erica Tandori, Stuart Favilla – Talk about their multi-media experience “My Goodness” – (Skip to 15:59)

Available on the podcast, listen to the full song “My Goodness”.

Further information on the “My Goodness” Book can be found here.

The Vision Australia Radio Network incorporates ten community radio stations across Victoria, southern New South Wales, Adelaide and Perth and five digital radio services.

We offer a range of interesting and informative programs that feature readings from the latest newspapers, magazines and books.

Our exclusive specialist content includes programs on new technology, current affairs, book and film reviews, health and wellbeing, the arts, finance, travel and more.

Adapted from Original article.

Congrats to Wael and Adam: Winners of the Early Career Researcher Publication Prizes for 2021

The Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences (MNHS) is committed to developing Faculty-based Early Career Researcher (ECR)* initiatives, to assist our ECRs in the development of their research careers. In addition to the emphasis placed on a strong track record in research publications and competitive funding, there is also the requirement for ECRs to secure competitive Prizes & Awards. In support  of  this,  the  Faculty Research Office offers the MNHS ECR Publication Prize.

*In FMNHS, an Early Career Researcher (ECR) is defined as academic staff (Levels A-C) within 10 years of their PhD conferral (taking career disruptions into account).

ECRs are invited to nominate one research publication from the previous year for the MNHS ECR Publication Prize. Up to six ECR Publication Prizes are awarded per year, a maximum of one prize per discipline:

  1. The Robert Porter Prize for Laboratory Based Sciences
  2. The John McNeil Prize for Public Health Research
  3. The Henry Krum Prize for Clinical Sciences
  4. The Jenny Keating Prize for Nursing and Allied Health
  5. The Leon Piterman Prize for Social and Educational Research
  6. The Jenny Redman Prize for Psychological Sciences

In addition, up two Faculty prizes are also awarded for the best publications from ECRs who hold an externally-funded Fellowship.

Congratulations to our 2021 Early Career Researcher Publication Prize Winners

Robert Porter Early Career Researcher Publication Prize for Laboratory Based Sciences
Dr Wael Awad, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, School of Biomedical Sciences, Biomedicine Discovery Institute.
The molecular basis underpinning the potency and specificity of MAIT cell antigens Nature Immunology

Wael says
It is a great honour to receive the 2021 Robert Porter ECR Publication Prize for Laboratory Sciences. I am incredibly grateful to the fantastic team of collaborators who worked together so effectively across multiple research platforms and institutes in this exciting study. In particular, I’d like to express my sincerest appreciation to my mentor Professor Jamie Rossjohn for his enduring efforts and support throughout this project’s journey. In this study, we used a range of innovative structural biology and immunology approaches to unearth the molecular principles underpinning how microbial metabolites could be presented by the antigen-presenting molecule MR1 to specialized T cells, called MAIT cells, triggering an effective immune response against the invading microbes. This research provided an important framework for rationally designing improved MAIT inhibitors and activating ligands that could pave the way for the development of novel T-cell therapies. To help promote the science explored in this paper, I intend to use this prize towards travel costs for an international meeting next year.

Early Career Researcher Fellows Publication Prize for Laboratory Based Research
Dr Adam Shahine, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, School of Biomedical Sciences, Biomedicine Discovery Institute.
A single-domain bispecific antibody targeting CD1d and the NKT T-cell receptor induces a potent antitumor response Nature Cancer

Adam says
It is an absolute honour to be the recipient of the 2021 ECR Publication Prize – Fellows Publication Prize for Laboratory Sciences. I would like to acknowledge all co-authors and collaborators who took part in this exciting study. In particular, my co-first author Roeland Lameris from Amsterdam UMC, who partook in a lab stay within our laboratory for this project, as well as my key supervisor and mentor Professor Jamie Rossjohn. This study was a fantastic collaborative effort between academic and industrial institutes including Lava Therapeutics, Amsterdam UMC, Monash University, and the University of Melbourne, which married together a multidisciplinary body of work to describe a novel immuno-oncology approach for the potential treatment of rare cancers. Here, we have described the bispecific properties of a VHH antibody, supported by cellular, biophysical, structural, and mouse model data, that target and boost the interaction between two key immune cell receptors within the CD1d-Natural Killer T cell axis, resulting in a more effective immune response towards multiple myeloma and acute myeloid leukemia. These new findings will serve as a model for the potential generation of new and effective treatments towards a broad range of cancers. I aim to use these funds to attend the 16th Congress of the Federation of Asian and Oceanic Biochemists and Molecular Biologists to be held in Christchurch, NZ, in November 2021.

 

Adapted from The Pulse News from the MNHS Research office

“My Goodness” – exploring what your digestive and immune system looks, sounds and feels like

Oh My Goodness!  *(My Goodness Me)

In celebration of National Science Week 2021, the United Nations International Year of Fruit and Vegetables and the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development, Monash University is launching a multisensory book and exhibition titled ‘My Goodness’ – a tactile and interactive exploration of the science behind gut health, nutrition, and immunity.

Designed for low vision, blind and general audiences alike, the books will read to you and also entertain.

Described as an ‘entire multisensory art exhibition in a single book’, they  are stationed on interactive reading benches using optical scanning technology (fiducials) and webcams enabling the wonderful world of the gut biota to come alive.

Through tactile artworks, audio sonifications, braille-inspired protein molecules, large print, audio narration, and braille supplements, audiences can explore the Books against a backdrop of synthesised music evoking molecular protein foldings and the sounds of the gut biota.

The books have been created by Dr Erica Tandori, legally blind Sensory Science Artist in Residence at the Rossjohn Lab, Monash University Biomedicine Discovery Institute, in collaboration with Stu Favilla, Musician and Lecturer in Interaction Design at Swinburne University of Technology, School of Design and Architecture.

They contain contributions by some of Monash University’s most eminent and world-renowned experts in the field of gut health, nutrition and immunity.

“So much more can be expressed when you add sounds,” says Dr Tandori.  “It really does help to support what’s happening from the visual and tactile level when you can listen to the sounds of a protein or the way microbes are interacting while you are feeling the sculptures and exploring the artworks.

“Stu has brought an amazing plethora of audio design skills to this project including sonification of the artworks, 3D audio and beautiful modular synthesis music evoking the inner universe and machinations of human digestion!”

Mr Favilla adds: “Erica’s tactile artworks are not 3D prints but rather reference a language of touch that we are all familiar with.  Her artworks comprise food grains, clothing materials, wools and many other fascinating textures and multisensory experiences.

“They are driven by her desire to communicate the wonders of molecular biology through her unique artistic understanding and perceptions. The books reference a legacy of prior exhibition knowledge but the exhibition itself is now spatially encapsulated, all in one neat package.”

The Books have also inspired the creation of a pop song called “My Goodness”, co-written by Erica and Stu with Erica singing vocals and Stu performing all instrumentation, rapping and producing the track.

“We hope we can get kids of all ages to sing about the wonders of the gut biota. My Goodness is possibly the greatest song ever written about the gut biota, immunity, fruit and vegetables,” Dr Tandori said.

Following the Launch event, the books are intended for roving exhibitions across metropolitan and regional schools, community groups and disability educational centres in Victoria.

An online version of the books is also proposed as a COVID-19 contingency plan with a range of virtual activities to support the exhibition.

The My Goodness: Interactive Multisensory Science Book Launch and Exhibition is a free online event that will be held on Friday August 20  from 9 am.

This initiative is supported by the National Science Week Inspiring Australia Grant.

About the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University

Committed to making the discoveries that will relieve the future burden of disease, the newly established Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University brings together more than 120 internationally-renowned research teams. Spanning six discovery programs across Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease, Development and Stem Cells, Infection and Immunity, Metabolism, Diabetes and Obesity, and Neuroscience, Monash BDI is one of the largest biomedical research institutes in Australia.  Our researchers are supported by world-class technology and infrastructure, and partner with industry, clinicians and researchers internationally to enhance lives through discovery.

For media enquiries please contact:

Wendy Smith

Media and Communications Manager

Monash University

E: wendy.smith1@monash.edu

T: +61 (0) 425 725 836

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