Crucial medical research gets green light

Image of vials in a medical laboratory

Research into treatments for blood cancer, a sterilisation approach to kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria and using gene therapy to potentially cure childhood dementia are among six University of Adelaide-led projects awarded more than $6.3 million from the Federal Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

Professor Anton Middelberg, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Research), the University of Adelaide, congratulated the researchers for the contribution they were making to improving health outcomes for the community.

“All six projects are vitally important to helping to solve medical issues that have a negative impact on society,” Professor Middelberg said.

“The University of Adelaide prides itself on leading the way when it comes to producing cutting-edge research that has real-world implications.”

The projects include:

  • A team led by Dr Karen Best, a University of Adelaide titleholder, an Affiliate Senior Lecturer at the Adelaide Medical School, and Senior Research Fellow in the SAHMRI Women and Kids Theme, will investigate how ensuring women have adequate levels of omega-3 in pregnancy can lead to a reduction in premature births. The project has received a Maternal Health and Healthy Lifestyles grant of $1,366,712 over four years.
  • A team led by Professor Guy Maddern, an RP Jepson Professor of Surgery, Discipline Leader – Surgery, will conduct a world-first investigation into the effects of faecal microbiota transplantation on patients with pancreatic cancer. The project was awarded a Pancreatic Cancer Research grant of $1,521,832 over three years.
  • A team led by Associate Professor Odette Pearson, a University of Adelaide titleholder, Aboriginal Health Equity Theme Leader with Wardliparingga Aboriginal Research Unit at SAHMRI and the Sansom Institute for Health Research at the University of South Australia, will study how aged care, health care and social services systems can better support older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to live their best lives. The project was awarded a Dementia, Ageing and Aged Care grant worth $1,497,743 over four years.
  • Dr Katharina Richter, a biomedical researcher from the Adelaide Medical School, is leading a team that will trial a new sterilisation approach using cold plasma technology that aims to kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The project was awarded an Early to Mid-Career Researchers grant worth $758,437 over two years.
  • Dr Nicholas Smith, a neurologist and Director of the Paediatric Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Group from the Adelaide Medical School and the Women's and Children's Hospital, will lead a study into the development of nanoparticle vectors for gene transfer therapy in childhood dementia. The project was awarded an Effective Treatments and Therapies grant of $302,148 over two years. 
  • Associate Professor Daniel Thomas, a clinical haematologist from the Adelaide Medical School and Director of the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute’s (SAHMRI) Blood Cancer program, will lead a multi-disciplinary team building new human bone marrow from stem cells to improve the treatment of relapsed cancer. The project has received a Stem Cell Therapies grant worth $854,593 over two years.

The MRFF is a $20 billion long-term investment supporting Australian health and medical research. The MRFF aims to transform health and medical research and innovation to improve lives, build the economy and contribute to health system sustainability.

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