Healthcare Research

NHMRC funds 10 teams to tackle major health issues


The Albanese Government has allocated a substantial $50 million investment towards innovative major health research initiatives.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is set to distribute $5 million to 10 exceptional research teams, comprising experts from various disciplines. These teams will collaboratively address critical health issues such as prostate cancer, high blood pressure, stroke, and chronic pain, focusing on questions that demand a collective approach.

One of the groundbreaking projects set to benefit from this funding is led by Professor Helen Christensen and her team from the University of New South Wales. They have been granted $5 million to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) in enhancing therapy for individuals grappling with psychological distress. Notably, women aged 16–34 are more susceptible to psychological distress, affecting nearly 1 in 6 Australians.

Professor Christensen’s research aims to harness the power of AI, digital mental health advancements, and health economic modelling to tailor effective therapeutic interventions. Through AI techniques, the team seeks to determine the most suitable therapy for individual patients, marking a significant stride in personalised mental health care.

Another notable recipient of NHMRC funding is Professor Gail Risbridger and her team from Monash University. They will receive $5 million to advance CAR T-cell therapy for prostate cancer. CAR T-cell therapy, an immunotherapy that modifies immune cells to target and attack cancer cells, has exhibited success in treating blood cancers. However, its effectiveness in treating solid cancers like prostate cancer remains unproven.

Prostate cancer is the most prevalent cancer diagnosis in Australia, affecting 1 in 6 men by the age of 85. Professor Risbridger’s approach involves innovative methods for generating CAR T-cells, a diverse range of models for testing, and cutting-edge imaging tools to facilitate the translation of this therapy into clinical practice.

The NHMRC’s Synergy Grant scheme, the driving force behind this transformative initiative, promotes collaboration among diverse researchers. By fostering teamwork and integrating a variety of skills and perspectives, the scheme aims to address complex research questions and ultimately improve human health.

NHMRC CEO Professor Steve Wesselingh emphasised the importance of the Synergy Grant scheme, stating, “These grants offer opportunities to foster collaboration between diverse researchers to ensure a range of skills and perspectives are brought to the research problem.” He highlighted the scheme’s role in supporting diverse teams, an essential element in tackling intricate research challenges and advancing the understanding of human health.

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Ritchelle is a Content Producer for Healthcare Channel, Australia’s premier resource of information for healthcare.

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