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July 2007 Issue
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$3m grants awarded for healthy start to life


Two University of Adelaide researchers have been awarded more than $3 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) for research into the social, environmental and hereditary factors that impact on the health of Australian children.

The two grants awarded to the University of Adelaide represent almost half of the $6.2 million in total funding announced nationally by the Federal Government recently.

The grants have been awarded to Associate Professor Michael Davies (Obstetrics & Gynaecology) and Associate Professor Vivienne Moore (Public Health), both members of the University's Research Centre for the Early Origins of Health and Disease.

"It has taken a number of years for research into the early origins of disease to be fully appreciated by the medical and scientific communities and by funding bodies," Associate Professor Davies said.

"The funding that we are now receiving signifies a change in thinking in Australia into the need for more research into this vital field."

Associate Professor Davies, who is Co-Director of the Research Centre, said the latest funding is further recognition of the uniqueness and quality of the research groups and the high international standard of work being conducted within the centre.

"With this announcement, we are now chief investigators on seven major grants into the early origins of health and disease totalling more than $14.1 million in funding from various sources," he said.

"Our work aims to have an impact on the future health of Australians by understanding the long-term consequences of social and environmental influences on fetal development, including lifestyle.

"We see our research informing both subsequent basic research and contributing to public health policy."

In total, seven grants - called the NHMRC Healthy Start To Life For All Australians Strategic Awards - were announced by the Minister for Health and Ageing, the Hon. Tony Abbott.

The winning projects at the University of Adelaide are:

  • $1,961,375 to a team led by Associate Professor Michael Davies (Discipline of Obstetrics & Gynaecology) - for a study into intergenerational health among women (mothers, daughters and grand-daughters), and how conditions in pregnancy can affect the reproductive health of offspring in successive generations. This study has a focus on the risk of metabolic disorders, such as diabetes, and aims to help predict and prevent these disorders;
  • $1,090,725 to a team led by Associate Professor Vivienne Moore (Discipline of Public Health) - for a study into the early life influences (pre-birth and infancy) on obesity and fat patterning in children, looking at critical periods, environmental determinants and the socio-cultural context. The project also aims to identify practical opportunities for prevention, focusing on mothers and their infants.

Story by David Ellis

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