Flinders researchers awarded $9.55 million by NHMRC

sleepA project to improve the treatment and management of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) has shared in $9,551,746 awarded to Flinders University researchers across 19 grants in the latest round of National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding.

The grants cover projects and five unique fellowships, including three Early Career Fellowships, to be undertaken in 2012.

Associate Professor Peter Catcheside leads a project that will compare the effectiveness of a new OSA therapy with constant positive airway pressure (CPAP, pictured), the current best practice treatment.

“OSA is a condition which has significant adverse effects on health and quality of life, and has major community costs associated with accidents and productivity losses from severely disturbed sleep,” Associate Professor Catcheside said.

“A third of OSA patients and many heavy snorers could be effectively treated by simply avoiding sleeping on their back. However, traditional supine-avoidance approaches are inherently uncomfortable and typically not well tolerated and so can’t be recommended as long-term therapy,” he said.

“Our group helped develop and has tested a simple vibration alarm device to monitor and record sleep posture and discourage supine sleep with minimum discomfort and sleep disturbance.

“In a short term trial we have already shown the device accurately and reliably records body position, almost completely abolishes the supine posture and substantially improves OSA.

“This trial will look at longer-term effectiveness and tolerance. If our hypotheses are supported, simple low cost supine avoidance would become a viable treatment option for a substantial group of clinic patients.”

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor David Day congratulated the recipients and said the range of funded projects demonstrated the scope of medical research at Flinders University.

“Improving the health of the people in our community requires a multi-pronged approach that involves medical as well as public health policy advances,” Professor Day said.

“The Flinders projects funded in this latest NHMRC round cover health issues that affect many people such as eye disease, sleep apnoea, hip fracture and stroke recovery but which also examine the broader questions surrounding the nature of our health system,” he said.

“Some of the projects will yield results relatively soon; others will progress knowledge and understanding about diseases and their treatment. All, however, are making a vital, invaluable contribution to improving our health.”

The Flinders University recipients of NHMRC grants for 2012 are:

NHMRC Project Grants

  • Professor Fran Baum: Does a Health in All Policies approach improve health, well-being and equity? ($968,325)
  • Associate Professor Peter Catcheside: The clinical effectiveness of a simple new treatment for supine-dependent obstructive sleep apnoea ($512,776)
  • Professor Derek Chew: Do new markers of heart muscle damage lead to more efficient or effective clinical management of patients with chest pain presenting for emergency care? ($496,904)
  • Associate Professor Jamie Craig: Study of newly identified glaucoma genes ($502,302)
  • Associate Professor Jamie Craig: Identifying genes for five blinding diseases ($546,315)
  • Professor Maria Crotty: Hip fracture recovery in an aged care setting ($522,039)
  • Professor Peter Mackenzie: Regulation of enzymes that detoxify and eliminate fat-soluble chemicals ($571,010)
  • Professor Konrad Pesudovs: A system for measurement of vision-specific quality of life ($799,472)
  • Professor Julie Ratcliffe: Adolescent values for the economic evaluation of adolescent health care treatment and preventive programs ($174,312)
  • Professor Neil Sims: Promoting functional recovery following a stroke by manipulating cellular changes in the brain ($528,675)
  • Dr Nick Spencer: Imaging sensory nerve endings that detect pain ($551,010)
  • Professor David Watson: Identification of biomarkers of response and toxicity to chemoradiotherapy for oesophageal tumours ($481,175)
  • Professor David Watson: Long term follow-up of randomised controlled trials for laparoscopic antireflux surgery ($712,100)
  • Professor Xin-Fu Zhou: Roles of P75NTR in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease ($690,340)

NHMRC Project Grant – with Monash University as lead organisation

  • Professor James Harrison: Improving the measurement of non-fatal injury burden ($151,755)

NHMRC Research Fellowship:  Professor Xin-Fu Zhou ($641,855)

NHMRC Trip Fellowship:  Mr Cameron Phillips ($126,232)

NHMRC Early Career Fellowships

  • Dr Andrew Vakulin ($294,892)
  • Dr Jia Liu ($204,906)
  • Dr Feng Guo ($227,106)

IMAGE:  New Flinders obstructive sleep apnoea treatment may be more effective than conventional constant positive airway pressure devices (pictured).

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