NHMRC funding success for Garvan researchers

Researchers at Garvan have received a total of $11 million in peer-reviewed funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), out of a total of $630 million distributed to researchers across Australia.

Dr Jeng Yie Chan (Diabetes and Metabolism Division, Garvan Institute), who has been awarded an NHMRC Peter Doherty Biomedical Fellowship.

09 November 2015

Researchers from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research have received a total of $11 million in peer-reviewed funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), out of a total of $630 million distributed to researchers across Australia. In addition, Garvan researchers are Chief Investigators on the major multidisciplinary initiative ‘Preparing Australia for Genomic Medicine’.

Garvan congratulates in particular our senior, mid-career and early career researchers for their success in obtaining NHMRC Fellowships:

  • Professors Rob Brink (Immunology Division) and David Thomas (Head, Cancer Division) were successful in renewing their NHMRC Research Fellowships for the next five years and were both promoted to Principal Research Fellow.
  • Dr Phillippa Taberlay (Genomics and Epigenetics Division) was awarded a Career Development Fellowship to undertake research into the role of epigenetics in the initiation and progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Dr Anthony Glover, currently at the Kolling Institute, was awarded an NHMRC Neil Hamilton Fairley Overseas Clinical Fellowship to study the role of RAS mutations in advanced thyroid cancer, and will spend two years at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York before returning to work with Prof David Thomas at Garvan.
  • Dr Jeng Yie Chan (Diabetes and Metabolism Division) was awarded an NHMRC Peter Doherty Biomedical Fellowship to continue her research with A/Prof Ross Laybutt on pancreatic beta cell death and dysfunction in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Nine NHMRC Project Grants were awarded to Garvan researchers across different areas:

  • A five-year project to study how antibody-secreting cells in the germinal centre are regulated to provide immune protection and avoid autoimmunity (Prof Rob Brink, Dr Tri Phan and A/Prof Daniel Christ)
  • A four-year study bringing together cell and molecular biologists, paediatricians and clinical specialists in childhood-onset autoimmune disease to understand how autoimmunity develops in children in the first ten years of life, and whether autoimmunity is caused by specific DNA mutations (Professor Chris Goodnow, Dr Tony Roscioli, Dr Elissa Deenick and colleagues at the Australian National University, University of Sydney, UNSW Australia, Monash University and the Children’s Hospital Westmead).
  • A study of how RANKL, a molecule produced by osteoblasts in the bone, mediates the control of energy expenditure in addition to bone homeostasis (Prof Herbert Herzog and Dr Paul Baldock)
  • A study linking health information and death records of >260,000 people to determine the cause of any fracture-associated mortality and the effect of medication to improve osteoporosis management (A/Prof Jacqueline Center and University of Sydney colleagues Prof Lyn March and Prof Judy Simpson)
  • The development of a clinical test to detect misrepair of chromosomal breakage that results in gene fusion events in blood cancers (Dr Tim Mercer, Dr James Blackburn and Dr Devinder Gill (University of Queensland)).
  • The use of cutting-edge imaging technologies and 3D cancer models to develop ways to promote drug responses in regions of pancreatic cancer that generally respond poorly to treatment (Dr Paul Timpson, Dr Jennifer Morton (Beatson Institute, UK), Prof Yingxiao Wang (University of California San Diego) and Dr Marina Pajic)
  • A project using sophisticated cell imaging techniques to determine how immune cells are involved in shaping anti-tumour responses in cancer and implications for immune therapy strategies (Dr Tatyana Chtanova)
  • A project to identify DNA modifications in tumour cells and surrounding cells to distinguish aggressive from slow-growing prostate cancer (Prof Sue Clark, Prof Gail Risbridger (Monash University), Dr Robert Bristow (University Health Network, Toronto), Dr Ruth Pidsley, Dr Mitchell Lawrence (Monash University), Prof James Kench, A/Prof Phillip Stricker (St Vincent’s Hospital))
  • A study of how the proto-oncogene Id4 regulates cell proliferation, survival and differentiation of triple-negative breast cancer and serous ovarian cancer (Dr Alex Swarbrick, Dr Jason Carroll (Cancer Research UK), Dr Mark Cowley, Prof Sandra O’Toole)

Garvan scientists were also awarded two Development Grants, each for two years of funding:

  • Dr Tim Mercer and Prof David Thomas received funding to develop a technique to diagnose chromosomal translocations in solid tumours
  • A/Prof Daniel Christ received funding for the development of stable human antibody phage display libraries.

In addition, seven Garvan researchers are Chief Investigators on a major multidisciplinary initiative entitled ‘Preparing Australia for Genomic Medicine’. The project, which has received a total of $25 million in funding from NHMRC, has a national focus and is led by the Australian Genomics Health Alliance (AGHA) and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. Chief Investigators from Garvan include Associate Professor Marcel Dinger, Prof Deborah Schofield, Prof John Mattick, Prof David Thomas, Dr Tudor Groza, Bronwyn Terrill and Dr Tony Roscioli.

The full list of today’s funded grants is available here.

Dr Marie Dziadek, Garvan’s Chief Scientific Officer, says, “Garvan is delighted that so many talented, high-calibre researchers will have the opportunity to pursue key questions in important areas of medical research. Funding from NHMRC provides considerable support that is essential for Garvan’s work.

“However, funding constraints and diminishing success rates do mean that many other outstanding projects were not able to be funded by NHMRC in this round. We, like other medical research institutes, will be working to find alternative sources of funding to support our outstanding researchers in their work.”