MRFF funding to advance research into blood cancer and neurological conditions in children

The Commonwealth Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) has invested close to $8 million to advance neurological and cancer research led by Monash University’s Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences.

The three grants have been awarded to Associate Professor Zoe McQuilton from the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Professor Peter Anderson from the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health and Professor Katrina Williams from the Monash School of Clinical Sciences.

Associate Professor McQuilton’s project will generate evidence to improve use of immunoglobulin replacement to reduce infections in blood cancers.

“Immunoglobulin is a precious blood product made from plasma provided by volunteer donors. Although commonly used for patients with blood cancer, there are significant gaps in our knowledge about how best to use this blood product,” Associate Professor McQuilton.

“We’re grateful for the opportunity to undertake this clinical trial, which links to a larger body of work to improve blood cancer treatment and stewardship of this costly, limited and valuable blood product.”

Professor Anderson will lead research focussing on very preterm births (two months early), and the developmental delays and impairments associated with the occurrence.

“Children born very preterm are at high risk for developmental problems and should be closely monitored throughout childhood. This grant will enable the design of a monitoring program that we can roll out Australia-wide, enabling developmental problems to be detected early in life when intervention strategies are most effective,” said Professor Anderson.

The project being led by paediatrician Professor Williams will focus on early, novel and accessible intervention for children with developmental regression.

“This opportunity is something the parents who have watched their children lose skills, feeling helpless to intervene and struggling to access services, have been waiting for. Combining best care and research will provide what children and families need and is our best chance of improving their outcomes,” she said.

Professor James Whisstock, Deputy Dean of Research at the Monash Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, says: “The MRFF funding awarded to these three outstanding researchers and their teams will help to improve outcomes for patients and their families. On behalf of the faculty I would like to extend a warm congratulations to the successful funding recipients.”

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) and Senior Vice-President, Professor Rebekah Brown said: “Our researchers are committed to solving some of the world’s most critical problems. These grants are recognition of the outstanding work of our researchers and the impact they can make in supporting healthy communities. Congratulations to all the research teams involved.”

The three MRFF grants:

Associate Professor Zoe Mcquilten: $3,984,139.00

Generating evidence to improve use of immunoglobulin replacement to reduce infections in blood cancers: the RATIONAL Platform Trial.

Professor Katrina Williams: $1,995,974.54

Early, novel and accessible intervention for children with developmental regression.

Professor Peter Anderson: $1,829,994.60

Targeted surveillance of developmental delay and impairments for young children born very preterm.

The Government’s $20 billion MRFF is a long-term, sustainable investment in Australian health and medical research. Further information about the MRFF is available at