The Hon. Greg Hunt MP
Minister for Health and Aged Care
22 October 2021
$85 million to explore Australian and global health challenges
Seventeen multidisciplinary research teams will each receive $5 million in funding from the Australian Government to find solutions to major questions in human health that cannot be answered by individual investigators.
The Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, today announced the award of $85 million for 17 projects through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Synergy Grant scheme.
“Collaboration is at the heart of science today,” said Minister Hunt. “Many of our greatest health challenges will only be solved by collaboration between people with different skills and different perspectives.
“These grants bring together teams of Australia’s best health and medical researchers from across disciplines to address health issues as diverse as the link between the gut microbiome and lung inflammation and creating new drugs to fight the emerging viruses and antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
“One project at WEHI will support an exceptional team of experts in computational protein design, structural biology, immunology and brain surgery who will together help achieve better outcomes for those Australians facing the devastating diagnosis of brain cancer.”
The research team at WEHI, led by Associate Professor Misty Jenkins, aims to have one or more novel CAR T-cell therapies to take into clinical trials in Australia to treat glioblastoma, which is the most common primary brain tumour and has a low survival rate.
The team aims to develop cell-based immunotherapies that will potently and specifically eliminate tumours with minimal damage to healthy tissue and will support long-term remissions.
Each Synergy Grant team receives $5 million over 5 years, with funding commencing in 2022.
The Synergy Grant scheme was introduced in 2019 and is designed to support highly collaborative teams of diverse researchers to work together to address major problems in any area of human health and medical research, from discovery to translation. Notably, over 50 per cent of the Synergy Grants awarded in this round are led by women.
NHMRC CEO Professor Anne Kelso said the success of female lead investigators in the latest Synergy Grant outcomes was encouraging for all as well as for many other women starting out on their research careers.
“The projects funded today are exciting examples of what is possible when different disciplines and perspectives are brought together to solve a problem. While the Synergy Grant outcomes for female lead investigators are significant, NHMRC continues to work on ways to ensure women are equally represented at all careers levels and across all our grant schemes,” Professor Kelso said.
Today’s announcement includes funding for research at:
- The University of Queensland where Professor Kate Schroder will lead a multidisciplinary team to create new drugs to fight the emerging viruses and antibiotic-resistant superbugs that are major challenges for human health in the 21st century
- The University of Melbourne where Professor Ingrid Scheffer will lead a team bringing computational expertise to integrate multiple biological measurements from patients with severe forms of epilepsy, revealing underlying disease dynamics and targeting new treatment approaches
- The University of Western Australia and Telethon Kids Institute where Professor Jonathan Carapetis will bring together a diverse team of experts to tackle the social determinants that underlie rheumatic heart disease – a serious disease caused by preventable Strep A infections and disproportionately affecting Indigenous Australians – by investigating how environmental health and housing interventions can stop Strep A spread
- The South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) where Professor Alex Brown will lead a national consortium to build Indigenous leadership in genomics through empowering communities to understand genomic variation, identify multi-omic signatures of disease and translate these findings to health care, ensuring Indigenous people can lead genomic research on their terms
- University of Technology Sydney (UTS) where Professor Philip Hansbro will lead a team that will examine the link between gut disease and emphysema and how the altered microbiome can be modified with dietary interventions, with the most effective to be tested in clinical trials.