Monash receives largest share of federal medical research funding

Monash University has been awarded more than $76 million in the latest round of National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding to conduct vital research.

Federal Health Minister, the Hon. Greg Hunt, today announced over $400 million supporting more than 400 health and medical research projects through the NHMRC.

Monash was awarded more funding than any other Australian university.

The announcement also brings the total funding awarded to Monash for NHMRC and Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) grants to more than $148.2 million in 2019 – an increase of $42 million on the previous year and the largest amount ever received in a single year.

Monash attracted funding across six of the seven NHMRC schemes announced today – Ideas Grants (49), Postgraduate Scholarships (8), Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies Grants (5), Synergy Grants (3), Partnerships Grants (1), Targeted Calls for Research (1).

The funding will support a diverse range of projects from developing new antimalarial drugs, trials to reduce methamphetamine use and developing an integrated approach to precision medicine targeting antimicrobial resistance of bacterial ‘superbugs’.

The grants will be announced by Mr Hunt during a visit to Monash University today, where he will view the work of grant recipient Professor Tony Tiganis, from the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI).

Professor Tiganis was awarded a $1.7 million Ideas Grant to develop next generation therapies for cancer.

He said immune-based therapies are revolutionising the treatment of previously untreatable cancers. His project, conducted in collaboration with Professor Nicholas Huntington at the Monash BDI the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, will use cutting-edge preclinical tumour models and innovative approaches to enhance CAR cell therapies in cancer.

“This project has the potential to be a game-changing discovery in the field of cancer immunotherapy, leading to the next-generation of CAR T therapies that should increase their effectiveness in approved diseases and broaden their therapeutic utility to additional diseases such as solid cancers,” Professor Tiganis said.

“We are extremely grateful to the NHMRC for continuing to fund this vital research.”

Associate Professor Janet Bray, in partnership with the Project for Better Health, received a $905,000 Partnerships Grant to improve cardiovascular awareness and response to symptoms in regions at highest risk of heart attacks.

Professor Susan Charman received a $5 million Synergy Grant for her research into the identification and development of new antimalarial drugs. Malaria infects over 200 million people and causes over 440,000 deaths each year. Resistance has now emerged to all current classes of antimalarial medicines, so there is an urgent need to discover new classes of antimalarial drugs that target novel pathways in order to avoid cross-resistance with current medicines.

President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret Gardner AO said the increase in funding for medical and health research at Monash was a remarkable result and testament to the University’s talented and dedicated researchers.

“This funding is vital in our commitment to help solve some of the world’s biggest medical challenges and improve the health of local and international communities, and recognises Monash as a global leader in medical research,” Professor Gardner said.

“I thank the NHMRC and the Minister for their continued support in recognising the importance of progressing these world-class projects, which are being pursued by our talented scientists, and for sharing in our desire to make a difference.”