Flinders researchers to break new ground with grants

Health and medical researchers at Flinders University have secured almost $7 million in grants for 13 projects from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Flinders University’s Professor Fran Baum is the chief investigator in a multi-university $1.5 million project that promises to set new national benchmarks for public health by assessing the effectiveness of comprehensive primary health care in local communities. In May this year, Professor Baum was awarded a Federation Fellowship by the Australian Research Council (ARC), worth $1.6 million over five years.

Three other researchers each won funding for two projects: Associate Professor Jamie Craig, Dr Nicholas Spencer and Professor Ian Gibbins.

With just over $1 million in funding, Associate Professor Craig’s research projects will investigate methods of predicting the debilitating eye disease glaucoma, as well as clinical aspects of the disease, while Dr Spencer’s projects received $900,000 to look at mechanisms and pain pathways of the lower digestive system, including the causes of constipation in the elderly. Professor Gibbins’ research has received $860,000 to examine the action of neural pathways in genital pain and the action of hormones and enzymes in the control of blood pressure.

The NHMRC funding round follows Wednesday’s announcement by the Australian Research Council (ARC) of approaching $4 million in grants for Flinders University.

These grants included the only Linkage International Fellowship awarded to a university in South Australia, which was granted to Professor Nico Voelcker, who will be collaborating with colleagues from France, Spain and the USA.

An oceanography research project, led by senior lecturer in marine biology Dr Laurent Seuront, has received a $675,000 Australian Professorial Fellowship (APF) over five years from the ARC. Dr Seuront’s team will explore the structure of the oceans by examining the behaviour of small organisms like bacteria and plankton.

Flinders Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Chris Marlin, said the outcome of the latest rounds of competitive ARC and NHMRC grants applications was “very encouraging”.

“We are delighted that Flinders research expertise has been recognised with the awarding of a total of 26 grants by the ARC and NHMRC, the two key funding agencies in Australia,” Professor Marlin said.

“Through this funding support, Flinders researchers will be addressing some of the major challenges facing the country, including climate change, public health and law enforcement,” he said.

“I congratulate all of the successful research teams and look forward to seeing the results of their work.”

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