The fight against dementia, cancer and eye-disease receives $5.1m funding

Professor Nick Spencer: part of a team researching gut pain to be funded by the NHMRC.

Dementia, bowel cancer and glaucoma-induced blindness are among the diseases to be addressed by medical researchers at Flinders University who have received National Health and Medical Research Council funding of nearly $5.1 million.

The recipients include Dr Kate Laver of the School of Health Sciences, whose work focuses on the development of a telehealth intervention program aimed at delaying functional decline in people with dementia living in the community. She has received a $476,398 Dementia Research Development Fellowship, jointly funded by the NHMRC and the Australian Research Council.

Congratulating the recipients, the University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Robert Saint said the funded projects range from research that increases fundamental understanding of human physiology and genetics to projects that will have immediate impact in the community.

“The Flinders projects funded in this latest NHMRC round address health issues such as eye disease and bowel and oesophogeal cancer, which affect many people, but also seek to improve our basic understanding in areas such as brain chemistry and the nerves controlling the digestive system,” Professor Saint said.

“Many of these projects involve collaborations with researchers at other institutions, both within Australia and overseas, a strategy that maximises the effects of our expertise and intellectual resources.

“These are all projects that either in the short or longer term will make significant contributions to improving the health and well-being of the Australian community.”

The funding includes a grant of $58,790 for research equipment.

The titles of the major funded projects and their Flinders Chief Investigators are listed below:

  • Optimisation of the safety and efficacy of protein kinase inhibitors using endogenous and dietary biomarkers – Associate Professor Michael Sorich, Dr Andrew Rowland, Professor John Miners ($384,360)
  • How the lateral habenula integrates behavioural and autonomic functions: the VTA dopamine connection – Dr Youichirou Ootsuka, Emeritus Professor William Blessing ($819,904)
  • A novel multi-gene marker blood test to increase community participation in colorectal cancer screening – Professor Graeme Young, Professor Carlene Wilson, Professor Richard Woodman, Dr Gang Chen, Professor Robert Fraser ($581,116)
  • Long-term macrolide therapy; oropharyngeal dysbiosis and the spread of resistant pathogens – Associate Professor Geraint Rogers, Professor David Gordon ($384,152)
  • Blood serum microRNA biomarkers for oesophageal cancer – Dr Damian Hussey, Professor David Watson, Associate Professor Christos Karapetis ($495,432)
  • Importance of CGRP alpha in pain processing from the large intestine – Professor Nicholas Spencer, Professor Simon Brookes ($548,289)
  • High penetrance deleterious mutations in blinding glaucoma – Professor Jamie Craig, Dr Owen Siggs ($1,345,055).
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