UQ leads the State in NHMRC grants


University of Queensland researchers have been awarded more than $22 million as part of the latest round of National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Project Grant funding announced yesterday (October 10).

UQ's share of the funding ($22,224,648) was the largest in Queensland and made up more than half the total Queensland funding. It included funding for a UQ researcher working on developing a drug to block the growth of fat cells.

Of the 85 projects funded in Queensland for health and medical research, UQ was successful in 45, confirming the University's place as the top research institution in the State and one of the nation's leaders.

Nationally, UQ was fifth behind the University of Melbourne ($42,704,750), the University of Sydney ($31,313,298), the University of Western Australia ($27,186,979) and Monash University ($24,092,363).

UQ's Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor David Siddle said he was pleased with the University's performance, which saw an increase in research funding by more than $6 million from 2004.

"Our researchers have done very well and there are some terrific success stories in these results," Professor Siddle said.

UQ's Dr Louise Hutley was awarded $422,625 for her work on a drug to block the growth of fat cells

The School of Medicine researcher is working on a project entitled FGF-1 In Development of Human Obesity.

Obesity is a major contributor to medical conditions including Type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and depression.

"Despite the fact that obesity is so prevalent in our society we still don't really know what makes fat tissue grow," Dr Hutley said.

Using human fat tissue Dr Hutley has identified a growth factor crucial to the development of fat cells.

"These findings form the basis of novel therapies that will target and block development of new fat cells, thus limiting growth of fat tissue, Dr Hutley said.

The largest UQ award was a massive $1,841,500, which went to Professor Tom Gonda, Dr Brian Gabrielli, Dr Sean Grimmond and Dr Simon Barry from UQ's Centre for Immunology and Cancer Research for their study into Retroviral Expression Cloning Using Arrayed Full Length cDNA Gene Set.

Dr Gabrielli said the money would be used to form the Arrayed Retroviral Expression Cloning Facility, the only one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere and one of the first in the world.

"The project will enable us to look at the function of every gene in the human genome," he said.

"It has applications in just about every biological process including cancer, neurological diseases and metabolic diseases."

Another significant award to UQ was the $980,250 for Professor Jennifer Stow's projects, one of which is with Dr Rohan Teasdale on Protein Activation in Tumour Cells.

Professor Stow, from UQ's Institute for Molecular Bioscience, will investigate how proteins reach their proper location in the cell and the implications of these processes for cancer and inflammatory diseases.

In particular, her current research looks at the protein known as E-cadherin, which prevents tumour cells from multiplying, but in malignant tumours, this protein malfunctions allowing cancerous tumour cells to spread. This research will help better understand why this protein fails to activate in malignant tumour cells.

"The grant means we can start to explore new areas, using imaging in live cells to find out how tumour suppressors are regulated in cells and possibly how they can be manipulated to stop cells turning into cancer cells," Professor Stow said.

Professor Stow also received an NHMRC Fellowship, brining her total awards to $1.6million.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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