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08 Nov 2019

St Vincent’s Clinic Foundation Grants for Garvan researchers

Researchers from across the Institute have been awarded seven grants from the St Vincent’s Clinic Foundation.

blue screen showing genomic information with a researcher pointing

Congratulations to the seven Garvan researchers who have received St Vincent’s Clinical Foundation grants. Announced on 30 October at the annual Sandra David Oration, this funding gives researchers the opportunity to further their novel work to find new and effective treatments across a range disease areas including cancer, diabetes and immune disorders to improve the clinical care and outcomes for patients.

 The grant recipients and their successful projects include:

Professor Jerry Greenfield (Laboratory Head – Clinical Diabetes and Metabolism), awarded the Tancred Research Grant for $50,000.

Professor Jerry Greenfield and his team are working to understand why people with type 1 diabetes experience premature death from heart disease, and whether insulin resistance may be the treatable missing link. The study will determine if harmful patterns of insulin resistance in the liver and muscle explain differences in heart disease risk in type 1 diabetes, and if metformin can help to reduce insulin resistance. These findings have the potential to prevent early death for those suffering with type 1 diabetes.

Dr Elysse Filipe (Research Officer – Matrix and Metastasis), awarded the K&A Collins Cancer Research Grant for $50,000.

Breast Cancer is the second largest cause of cancer related death in Australian women. Triple negative breast cancer in particular remains the most difficult subtype to treat, due to the lack of targeted therapies. Current therapies rely on whole-body delivery of chemotherapy agents, which can often be an ineffective treatment method. Dr Elysse Filipe and her team will explore how coupling nanoparticles to the standard-of-care breast cancer chemotherapy can improve the targeted delivery specifically to tumour tissue in order to improve the effectiveness of treatment.

Dr Max Nobis (Research Officer – Invasion and Metastasis), awarded the Thelma Greig Cancer Research Grant for $50,000.

CDK4/6 inhibitors are the emerging standard of care in advanced breast cancer, extending and improving the life of patients. However, resistance to this inhibitor has started to emerge, with cancers recurring after approximately 20 months and no knowledge or strategy on how to treat these patients. Dr Max Nobis and his team will use cutting-edge imaging technology and 3D patient derived models that mimic the disease to map areas of poor drug response and counteract the factors driving the drug resistance.

Professor Mike Rogers (Laboratory Head – Bone Therapeutics), awarded the Kavan Research Grant for $50,000.

Professor Mike Rogers and his team’s research focuses on a potentially fatal genetic disease that appears in infancy and causes bowel inflammation. The study aims to discover what makes the gut leaky, for example whether the bacteria in the intestine is different to those in healthy intestines. The team will explore whether a lipid supplement has the ability to restore the bowel back to normal.  

Associate Professor Tri Phan (Laboratory Head – Intravital Microscopy), awarded an Annual Research Grant 1 for $40,000

Primary immunodeficiency diseases are rare illnesses that are difficult to diagnose and treat. While whole genome sequencing has revolutionised the diagnosis and precision treatment of many patients, many will still remain undiagnosed. Associate Professor Tri Phan is using novel bioformatic tools to mine patient’s genomic data in order to discover new disease-causing mutations. Understanding how these mutations cause disease will provide opportunities to discover new ways to treat immune diseases and cancers.

Associate Professor Ann McCormack (Group Leader – Hormones in Cancer), awarded an Annual Research Grant 3 for $40,000. 

Immunotherapy has transformed the treatment of numerous cancers, however the role of immunotherapy in aggressive pituitary tumours is largely unknown. With the high morbidity and mortality rates associated with aggressive pituitary tumours, there is a real need to identify new, novel treatment options. Associate Professor Ann McCormack and her team are exploring the role of immunotherapy as a potential treatment option for these tumours.

Professor Jacqueline Center (Laboratory Head – Clinical Studies and Epidemiology), awarded an Annual Research Grant 5 for $25,000. 

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are common chronic inflammatory diseases of the bowels that typically affect young people. Both these conditions are associated with higher rates of osteoporosis and fractures. Professor Jacqueline Centre and her team will closely follow a large group of patients with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. They hope to develop a tool to help physicians predict those at higher risk of osteoporosis and therefore require screening.