University of Western Australia: Pioneering research projects awarded federal funding

Innovative medical research into how mesothelioma patients respond to treatment and the missing genetics of rare diseases have been boosted by Federal Government funding.

Health Minister Greg Hunt announced today that the two UWA projects will receive a combined $2.78 million in Investigator Grant awards from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Dr Gina Ravenscroft, a senior fellow with the UWA-affiliated Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, has been awarded $1.28 million to fund research into the genetic causes of rare, often severely debilitating, disease and recurrent miscarriage.

“A genetic diagnosis provides families with answers, allows family planning, such that couples do not have another affected pregnancy or child, enables appropriate clinical management and gives researchers targets for development of new therapies.”

Dr Ravenscroft
Professor Anna Nowak, UWA Pro Vice-Chancellor (Health and Medical Research), has been awarded $1.5 million for research into the treatment of mesothelioma.

“Mesothelioma is a devastating cancer which is almost always fatal,” Professor Nowak said.

“My research is focused on clinical trials in mesothelioma and on understanding, from patient tumour samples and blood samples, why some people respond to treatment and others do not.

“This research will use cutting-edge laboratory techniques to study samples from people participating in a 480-patient clinical trial of chemo-immunotherapy in mesothelioma, in addition to working with animal models of mesothelioma and immunotherapy.”

Three researchers at the UWA-affiliated Telethon Kids Institute have also been awarded $5.3 million in grants to further their child health research.

Recipients include perioperative medicine team leader, Professor Britta Regli-von Ungern-Sternberg, consultant paediatric anaesthetist at Perth Children’s Hospital and Chair of Paediatric Anaesthesia at UWA.

Professor Regli-von Ungern-Sternberg, received $1.87 million to fund studies and trials aimed at making anaesthesia safer for children.

Program head of mental health and youth research at Telethon Kids Institute, Associate Professor Ashleigh Lin, was awarded $1.57 million to fund research aimed at improving the mental health of trans and gender diverse youth.

Professor Stephen Stick was granted $1.9 million for research aimed at improving the respiratory health of children in priority areas such as asthma, cystic fibrosis and early childhood viral infections, including COVID-19.

NHMRC Investigator Grants provide the highest-performing researchers at all career stages with secure funding that enables them to pursue important new research project.