National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Funding Outcomes

The following researchers have been awarded NHMRC funding for 2016:

Project Grants

Western Sydney University researchers will lead four new Project Grants supported by grants totalling more than $3.7 million:

Dr Thomas Astell-Burt – School of Science and Health

What types of local built environment synergise with or antagonise the benefits of clinical management for the prevention of cardiovascular events among people with type 2 diabetes mellitus? Longitudinal analysis of a cohort of 20,765 Australians

CIA: Dr Thomas Astell-Burt (Western Sydney), Dr Xiaoqi Feng

The built environments where people live influence lifestyles and health, as well as whether people in need of healthcare can access relevant services. We will use very large data to examine if the success of clinical management of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) on sustained lifestyle change and in preventing heart attacks is influenced by local built environment. Results will be translated to practitioners of T2DM management to help promote cardiovascular health.

Total funding: $704,405

Professor Vaughan Macefield – School of Medicine

Investigating proprioception and sensorimotor control in humans devoid of functional muscle spindles

CIA: Professor Vaughan Macefield

Specific genetic mutations can lead to widespread changes in the body. Here we are looking at congenital Hereditary and Sensory Autonomic Neuropathy type III (HSAN III). Affected individuals have difficulty walking, which progressively worsens over time. This series of experiments aims to increase our understanding of the underlying neurophysiological disturbances in HSAN III.

Total funding: $335,983

Professor Vaughan Macefield – School of Medicine

Functional identification of cortical and subcortical sites responsible for neurogenic hypertension in humans

CIA: Professor Vaughan Macefield (Western Sydney); Associate Professor Luke Henderson, Professor Annemarie Hennessy (Western Sydney), Associate Professor Angela Makris

Blood pressure is normally maintained at a relatively constant level through reflexes involving the brainstem, but we have recently shown that higher areas of the brain are also involved in the regulation of blood pressure in humans. Here, we will use the novel methodologies we have developed to study functional and structural changes in the brain in patients with essential and renovascular hypertension.

Total funding:$514,644

Professor David Simmons – School of Medicine

The Treatment Of BOoking Gestational diabetes Mellitus Study: The TOBOGM study

CIA: Professor David Simmons (Western Sydney); Professor William Hague, Professor Helena Teede, Professor Ngai Cheung, Professor Christopher Nolan, Professor Michael Peek, Associate Professor Federico Girosi (Western Sydney), Professor Christopher Cowell

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) related pregnancy complications are reduced with treatment from 24-28 weeks pregnant. Many women are diagnosed/treated earlier without evidence of benefit and possible risk of harm. In TOBOGM women under 20 weeks pregnant with mildly raised blood glucose will be allocated by chance to either immediate treatment, or awaiting a repeat diabetes test at 24-28 weeks pregnant to decide treatment. Harmful and beneficial effects on mother and baby will be compared.

Total funding: $2,197,279

NHMRC-ARC Dementia Research Development Fellowships

Our researchers were awarded two NHMRC-ARC Dementia Research Development Fellowships with total funding exceeding $1.1 million:

Dr Sandra Garrido – The MARCS Institute

Mood regulation using music: A community health strategy for improving quality of life in people with mild dementia

CIA: Dr Sandra Garrido

The proposed research aims to clearly establish the personal and musical parameters in which music alleviates or intensifies depression, and to test this model in people with mild dementia in both controlled and real-life settings. This will lay a firm foundation for the development of a web-based tool and mobile application that will provide a highly engaging and cost-effective method for reducing depression that will be accessible to people with mild dementia and caregivers in residential and home-care situations.

Total funding: $601,540

Dr Genevieve Steiner – NICM Health Research Institute

An investigation into the neural substrates of cognitive deficits in Mild Cognitive Impairment, and the mechanisms of action of a novel treatment

CIA: Dr Genevieve Steiner

Two studies will be conducted to assess the two central aims of this project. Study 1 will comprehensively and systematically examine the electrophysiological substrates of the cognitive deficits seen in Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), compared to age-matched controls. In order to further knowledge of the neuropathology in MCI, these findings will be compared with neuroimaging measures of brain oxygen consumption and metabolite concentrations, biochemical markers of inflammation and scores on a comprehensive neuropsychological test battery. Conducted in parallel to Study 1, Study 2 will investigate the mechanisms of action of a standardised herbal formula for the treatment of MCI, by evaluating its effect on electrophysiological, neuroimaging, biochemical, and neuropsychological measures, compared to placebo. This program of research will address an important knowledge-gap by conducting a multi-modal investigation that will further our understanding of MCI pathophysiology, whilst simultaneously investigating a possible treatment.

Total funding: $574,644

Career Development Fellowships

One of our researchers was the recipient of a Career Development Fellowship (R.D. Wright Biomedical) with funding exceeding $419,000:

Dr Siobhan Schabrun – School of Science and Health

An integrated, multi-system approach to understanding persistent pain

CIA: Dr Siobhan Schabrun

There has been no investigation of how each mechanism is altered as pain moves from acute to sustained to persistent or how these mechanisms interact to determine pain outcome. The program of research seeks to understand the biological basis of musculoskeletal pain as the condition progresses from acute (hours) to sustained (days to weeks) to persistent (months). An integrated, multi-system approach and a mix of novel experimental and clinical pain models to allow investigation of changes occurring in different biological systems, and their potential interaction, at different stages in the transition from acute to persistent pain. The findings of this work will dramatically increase our understanding of this common condition and should facilitate the development of effective treatment strategies that target the right mechanism, in the right individual, at the right time. Further, understanding the mechanisms that cause some individuals to develop persistent pain while others do not, should provide a foundation for interventions that can prevent the transition to persistent pain in future.

Total funding: $419,180