Flinders University awarded $6.4 million boost to health and medical research

Four new projects led by Flinders University researchers to tackle the problems of sleep apnoea and gestational diabetes have been awarded $6.4 million in funding in the latest round of Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

Professor Timothy Cavagnaro

Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Timothy Cavagnaro says Flinders University continues to rapidly expand the scope and breadth of its health and medical research.

“Flinders University continues to attract the lion’s share of the State’s medical research funding, building on our track record of excellence in research,” says Professor Cavagnaro.

“We are eighth in the country for National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grants, a testament to our dedication to advancing global health.

“Research funding is ever more competitive, and I am delighted that this latest success will support the University and build on our world-class research reputation, and I look forward to seeing the results of the research over the next few years.

“Through innovation, collaboration and inclusion, our visionary researchers can make a profound impact on improving human health, not just in Australia, but across the world,” he says.

The Flinders-led projects targeting obstructive sleep apnoea and gestational diabetes are:

2023 Preventive and Public Health Research Initiative: Almost 1 billion people are living with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) globally. OSA is characterised by frequent disruption of breathing during sleep which is associated with a range of serious health issues, which could take years off their life if undiagnosed and untreated.

Across three streams, the sleep team will work on Optimising Screening Diagnosis and Management of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA).

Stream 1: Current diagnosis of OSA requires a single night’s sleep study either at home or in a sleep laboratory where up to 12 different sensors are applied to the head, body, fingers and legs. Patients often sleep poorly, and the one-night assessments may not be representative of usual sleep, leading to misdiagnosis of sleep apnoea and severity. This project will test current methods against newer less intrusive technologies that can record over multiple nights to enable simpler and lower cost diagnostic methods – $1,996,310.

Led by Associate Professor Sutapa Mukherjee and Professor Peter Catcheside      

Stream 2: This study will compare the effects of simplified sleep study testing (with fewer monitoring channels than usual) versus full sleep studies for the diagnosis of OSA, by investigating the accuracy of three different simplified sleep study devices, their impacts on clinical decision-making and important patient outcomes. We will discover whether the use of simplified testing devices in the management of OSA is associated with significant cost savings – $1,995,310.

Led by Associate Professor Ching Li Chai-Coetzer and Associate Professor Andrew Vakulin

Stream 3: This study will examine whether home monitoring of OSA using a safe, effective, unobtrusive under-mattress device – combined with a range of support options to assist patients with their treatment – can help reduce the impact of untreated OSA on people’s lives and is more effective and cheaper than current care models – $1,496,447.

Led by Professor Robert Adams and Professor Danny Eckert

2023 Cardiovascular Disease and

Diabetes Mechanisms: Gestational diabetes, a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy, is the fastest growing type of diabetes in Australia, affecting thousands of women each year. Latest data shows 19% of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes putting mother and baby at risk of complications both during pregnancy and birth. It also increases their risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Women who had gestational diabetes are urged to have regular monitoring by their GPs for early diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.

Impact of excess folic acid on the pathogenesis of Gestational Diabetes

There are links between excess folic acid intake and gestational diabetes. This project will establish how excess folic acid intake contributes to gestational diabetes and will help to inform screening and advice for women during pregnancy.  This project includes collaboration with clinicians and midwives from South Adelaide Local Health Network (SALHN) – $1,000,000.
Led by Professor Claire Roberts

The MRFF provides funding to continue to support lifesaving research, create jobs, strengthen the local industry base for commercialising research and innovation, and further grow Australia’s reputation as a world leader in medical research.

MRFF Grant Recipients:

Posted in
Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health College of Medicine and Public Health Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute Research Uncategorized