National grants awarded for life-saving medical research

13/10/2022 | 3 mins

Eight researchers from The University of Western Australia’s Medical School, working on projects as diverse as antibiotic alternatives in pregnancy and reducing chronic pain in breast cancer patients, have been awarded National Health and Medical Research Council grants worth almost $8 million. 

 Dr Lucy Furfaro

Image: Dr Lucy Furfaro.

Forrest Prospect and Raine/Robson Fellow Dr Lucy Furfaro will research the use of viruses and genetic techniques to achieve a targeted treatment for streptococcal bacterial infections in women about to give birth.

Her aim is to provide an alternative to antibiotic use in pregnancy.

Dr Abdul Ihdayhid, also from the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, will use images from heart CT scans to develop a personalised technique for aortic value implantation.

The results are expected to make valve replacement safer, increasingly durable and more accessible. 

Professor Gary LeeImage: Professor Gary Lee.

Professor Gary Lee’s grant will fund research into pleurisy and pleural effusion, which is the excess build-up of fluid in the chest.

“Our research will use randomised trials with a multi-disciplinary approach including diet, exercise and psychology to try to alleviate the distressing breathlessness from pleural effusion with better and less invasive treatments,” Professor Lee said.

Associate Professor Ed Litton’s grant will help improve outcomes for intensive care patients.

He said at discharge, almost half had anaemia and his project aimed to evaluate treatments to improve recovery. 

“I’ll also develop blood tests to enable these treatments to be personalised,” Associate Professor Litton said.

Image: Dr Kathryn Ramsey.

Dr Kathryn Ramsey from the Wal-yan Respiratory Research Centre, a powerhouse partnership between Telethon Kids Institute, Perth Children’s Hospital and Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation, is working on improving the health of children with cystic fibrosis and bronchiectasis.

“My research is focused on early detection, monitoring, and treatment of these conditions to improve long term outcomes,” Dr Ramsey said.

Dr Tara Richman, also from the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, will research dysfunction within the energy centre of platelets.

“We want to find out how this can be translated to diagnosis and treatments for patients with excessive bleeding or clotting leading to stroke or heart attack,” Dr Richman said.

Associate Professor Andrew Toner’s project will explore whether technologically enhanced ward monitoring improves recovery after high-risk surgery.

In parallel, a treatment to reduce chronic pain after breast cancer surgery will be tested and a tool to predict post-operative inflammation will be developed. 

A project led by Telethon Kids Institute youth mental health researcher and Forrest Foundation Prospect Fellow Dr Nicole Hill will seek to increase understanding of suicide contagion and suicide clusters in young people and develop resources to prevent them from occurring.  

Media references

Cecile O’Connor  (UWA Media & PR Advisor)         6488 6876

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