Flinders receives $5.85 million in NHMRC grants

k-burdonA project that aims to counter diabetes-related eye damage by identifying the condition’s underlying genetic risk factors has won Flinders University researcher Dr Kathryn Burdon [pictured] a grant of more than $952,000 from the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Dr Burdon’s project is one of 12 Flinders projects, worth a total of $5.85 million, to be funded by the national body.

Dr Burdon’s team will use an approach that scans human genomes to find the associations of multiple genes that cause the development of diabetic retinopathy, a degenerative eye condition that frequently leads to blindness and which affects thousands of Australians.

Dr Burdon, who won a SA Young Tall Poppy of Science Award earlier this year, has also been awarded a Career Development Award.

Another eye-based project has brought a grant of $517,000 for Professor Keryn Williams.  She will lead a project to investigate the use of porous silicon, engineered at the nano-level, as a medium for ophthalmic implants.

Other funded projects within the Faculty of Health Sciences concern techniques to assess the treatment of oesophageal cancer, a study of drug metabolism, the role of specific proteins in nerve regrowth and improved diagnosis of the auto-immune disease lupus.

A multidisciplinary team will examine the factors involved in the onset of brain seizures, and biomedical engineer Associate Professor Karen Reynolds will lead a project to develop a medical device for use in trabecular (spongy) bone injury.

Flinders University’s interim Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Andrew Beer, congratulated the researchers and pointed to the high success rate of the Flinders applications (19.35 per cent) as evidence of the University’s outstanding performance and reputation in the field of medical research.

In other individual awards, Professor Peter McKenzie received a Research Fellowship, and Professor Doug McEvoy a Practitioner Fellowship.

Grants by the Australian Research Council were also announced, and explorations of eyewitness accuracy and the social networks of sleepy lizards are among the Flinders research projects to receive funding.

Five projects received funding from the ARC’s Discovery program and another project, which will examine the archaeology of the Indigenous urban fringe around Darwin, was funded under the ARC’s Linkage program.

The ARC funding, including a grant under the Discovery Indigenous Researchers Development scheme, totals $2.27 million.

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