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$4.8m NHMRC Investigator grants to improve health of our communities


baby hands
Thousands of babies could be saved each year by preventing spontaneous preterm birth

Three University of Newcastle researchers have been awarded $4.8m in National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Investigator grants* to find solutions to health problems such as pre-term birth and male infertility.

 

In collaboration with Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI)*, the Newcastle researchers will also advance knowledge on culturally appropriate tobacco cessation strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by privileging Indigenous knowledge and voices.


University of Newcastle Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation), Professor Zee Upton, congratulated the researchers and their teams for their role in leading cutting-edge health and medical research.


“This funding recognises that our researchers are at the forefront of solving some of Australia’s greatest health and medical challenges and is a testament to their exceptional expertise in their chosen fields.


“The research that this funding will allow to take place will help people in our communities live better, healthier lives and I’m excited to see what breakthroughs they discover and the impact that will have.”


The three successful NHMRC Investigator grants are awarded to:

 

Associate Professor Michelle Kennedy – $1,598,611

Upholding our rights to self-determination in tobacco control policy and practice:

Indigenous-led solutions to preventable death and disease caused by tobacco

While most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who smoke want to quit, they are less likely to be offered information about smoking cessation or receive culturally appropriate cessation support. As an Aboriginal tobacco control expert, Associate Professor Michelle Kennedy’s program of research will advance knowledge about effective tobacco cessation strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by privileging Indigenous knowledge and voices.

 

Dr Jonathan Paul $2,592,745

Leveraging uterine-targeted nanoparticles for preventing preterm birth

Thousands of babies could be saved each year by preventing spontaneous preterm birth. Current approaches are hampered by a lack of drug specificity. To address this, Dr Jonathan Paul and his team first developed uterine-targeted nanocarriers for targeting interventions to the pregnant uterus. He will now seek to leverage this platform to achieve the targeted delivery of multiple advanced therapies possessing the capacity to (re)program uterine smooth muscle cells and silence premature contractions to prevent preterm birth.

 

Dr David Skerrett-Byrne – $674,400

Balancing the burden and responsibility of fertility between women and men

For too long the burden of infertility has been placed on women, despite more than 50 per cent of infertility cases involving a male factor. In fact, male infertility is now considered a global public health issue, and yet our understanding of its causes remains limited. Dr David Skerrett-Byrne will address these knowledge gaps by identifying what regulates a healthy fertilisation competent sperm cell, development of new male contraceptive and how exposures throughout a man’s life might affect the health of the next generation.

 

* HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.

*NHMRC Investigator Grant scheme is the NHMRC’s largest funding scheme with over $411 million awarded in this round to 229 outstanding researchers to investigate Australia’s greatest health challenges.

 

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