Darwin's Menzies School of Health Research (MSHR) has been awarded $4.6 million in funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
This latest funding success will go towards six projects - further boosting the School's research capability into Indigenous, remote and tropical health.
Menzies Director, Professor Jonathan Carapetis, said that he is delighted with this latest result and that Menzies' reputation for word class research has helped to attract a record level of NHMRC funding this year.
"This achievement ensures that Menzies can continue to lead the way in the fields of Indigenous, remote and tropical health - both in Australia and on a regional scale," he said.
Prof Carapetis said that almost $1 million was awarded to support research projects in two important areas: almost $500,000 towards the successful 'Aboriginal Birth Cohort (ABC) Study'; and almost $400,000 towards the development of an immunodiagnostic test for scabies – a disease which is rife amongst remote Aboriginal communities.
The 'Aboriginal Birth Cohort (ABC) Study' was established by Dr. Susan Sayers in 1987 and is recognized as one of the longest and largest indigenous cohorts in the world. Menzies has tracked the health of 686 babies born at the Royal Darwin Hospital since birth and the ABC "babies" are now 19 years old.
"To date we've collected information on these babies at birth, the health and lifestyle of their mothers during pregnancy, their growth and health at 11 years of age and their physical and mental wellbeing at 18 years old," said Dr Gurmeet Singh, program leader of the ABC study at Menzies.
"This NHMRC funding will ensure that in depth data analysis can take place; and that the team can plan for the next phase of data collection – when the ABC "babies" will be 25 years old," she added.
Another important area of Menzies' work receiving funding is ongoing research by Dr Shelley Walton and her team - working towards the development of a diagnostic test for scabies.
"Scabies is often a result of poverty, overcrowding and poor housing which has been found to be rife in many remote indigenous communities," said Dr Walton.
"Occurrences of scabies have been linked with high rates of kidney disease and rheumatic heart disease found in some remote indigenous communities.
"The symptoms of scabies infestations can mimic many other skin diseases such as dermatitis, eczema, impetigo, and allergic reactions, and traditional tests to diagnose scabies are often less than 50% accurate.
"An effective simple, cheap, rapid, sensitive and specific diagnostic test for scabies will aid in the early identification of disease and thus treatment.
"The development of a test will enable the selective treatment of affected children and their families, reducing the requirement for mass treatment and associated costs, decrease the potential for escalating resistance, and provide another means of controlling scabies in highly affected areas," Dr Walton said.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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