Funding confirms UQ as backbone of Queensland research

The University of Queensland will receive more than 60 percent of the Federal Government funds for medical research announced for Queensland's universities, hospitals and research institutions today (October 16).

UQ researchers have been awarded $40.2 million as part of the latest round of National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding.

Federal Minister for Health and Ageing Tony Abbott announced 850 grants worth $529 million in NHMRC funding.

UQ's share included funding for researchers working on spinal pain, cardiovascular and metabolic disease, and health economics evaluation.

It will also fund two Centres for Clinical Research Excellence worth $2 million each, a large Capacity Building grant of $1.88 million, a Research Enabling grant for $1.5 million, 61 Project grants worth $26.81 million and seven Research Fellowships and four Career Development Awards totaling over $6 million.

UQ attracted 76 of the 119 project grants funded in Queensland for health and medical research, confirming the University's place as the top research institution in the State and one of the nation's leaders.

Nationally, UQ was the third-ranked university in terms of the number of grants awarded, and the fourth-ranked in terms of the amount of funds awarded.

UQ's Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor David Siddle said he was pleased with the University's performance, which confirmed the University's place amongst the highest performing research institutions in the country.

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

Projects funded include:

  • Professor Paul Hodges of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences leads a team which was awarded $2 million for a Centre of Clinical Research Excellence in spinal pain, injury and health.

Professor Hodges said musculoskeletal pain and injury had a major impact on the health and well-being of Australians.

"The economic burden is second only to cardiovascular disease," he said.

"Spinal complaints contribute the greatest percentage due to long-term disability, which is greater than arthritis."

Professor Hodges said because of the problem's magnitude, and the exponential growth of these conditions with the ageing of society, musculoskeletal disorders had been highlighted as a National Health Priority Area.

He said that 20002010 was the World Health Organisation Bone and Joint Decade.

"The excessive burden of spinal pain reflects current realities; the cause is unknown, 80 percent of the population is affected, and isolated professions use a staggering array of interventions," Professor Hodges said.

He said basic questions about spinal pain remained unanswered.

The new centre would bring together a multidisciplinary group of chief investigators whose skills extend from basic to clinical research with a national network of Australia's leading spine scientists. Contact email p.hodges@uq.edu.au (Professor Hodges is currently overseas).

  • Professor Tom Marwick of the School of Medicine, Southern Clinical Division (07 3240 5346) leads a multi-disciplinary group, which was awarded $2 million towards the Centre of Clinical Research Excellence (CCRE) in cardiovascular and metabolic disease.

Professor Marwick said the funding would build on the successes of the current CCRE in cardiovascular and metabolic disease.

"The obesity epidemic has increased the prevalence of several common clinical conditions associated with disturbed metabolism, including diabetes mellitus and chronic kidney disease," he said.

"Our current and ongoing studies are exploring the relationship between cardiovascular dysfunction and these metabolic diseases."

Professor Marwick said a number of biochemical abnormalities were common to these clinical conditions, underpinned their relationship to cardiovascular disease, and were amenable to lifestyle and/or pharmacological intervention.

The team's research has identified approaches to reverse or at least stabilise these abnormalities, and will focus on the optimal strategies to deliver these lifestyle interventions in the community.

They are looking at five areas liver disease, kidney disease, hypertension, diabetic heart disease and obesity and metabolic syndrome.

  • Associate Professor Christopher Doran of the School of Population Health (07 3365 5587) leads a group which also received substantial funding, being awarded a $1.877 million Capacity grant to build capacity in health economic evaluation.

The project will bring together a critical mass of Australian experts in economic evaluation and priority setting methods in health, including priority setting for Indigenous Australians and other groups with special needs.

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Media inquiries: Andrew Dunne at UQ Communications (0433 364 181).


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