In the presence of industry, business and research experts and our partner representatives from the NSW Department of Primary Industries, on Wednesday 10 December we awarded our 2015 grants.
This followed a recent strategy implementation that saw our Foundation change its focus towards advancing innovations and enabling collaborations, with funding available via competitive grants rounds on a national basis.
The 2014 calendar year saw the formation of a robust partnership with the NSW Department of Primary Industries, where we joined forces to provide joint funding to support an innovative infectious diseases project.
A proposal to design, manufacture and commercialise a cost effective “lab on a chip” device that can instantly identify the presence of infection and the causative virus from a range of existing possibilities received joint support from the NFMRI and the NSW Department of Primary Industries. The device, which is being developed by Prof Stephen Haswell at Deakin University, will cost less than $20, will take less than an hour to generate results and will be able to be linked to a database to produce a range of control and treatment options, including vaccine specific selections, where appropriate.
A/Prof Guillaume Lessene, from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, was hailed the inaugural recipient of the NFMRI’s Dr John Dixon Hughes Medal for Medical Research Innovation for discoveries and development of a new class of drugs that could trick cancer cells into committing “cell suicide” (apoptosis).
Professor Michael Good’s proposal to manufacture and test a vaccine to prevent infections with group A streptococcus (GAS), which may potentially decrease the global burden of rheumatic heart disease, many forms of chronic renal disease and other streptococcal pathology was also approved. The prevalence of severe GAS disease is estimated to be greater than 18 million cases globally, with 1.7 million new cases each year.
Also from Queensland, Dr Janet Davies’ project will aim to develop an improved allergen immunotherapy vaccine targeting subtropical grass pollens, as current vaccines are based on pollens of temperate rather than subtropical grasses. The outcomes will have the potential to meet the growing need of patients in subtropical regions of Australia, Asia, Africa and America.
Lastly, Dr Andrew Mitchell, a young research from the University of Sydney, has identified a previously unknown cell type that drives inflammation. The results of his study will form the foundation for developing innovative new therapies for bacterial meningitis.
Please join us in congratulating our new grant recipients. We hope to feature some of our grant recipients in future blog posts.