Researchers awarded $13.5 million in NHMRC funding

Researchers in the Doherty Institute and School of Biomedical Sciences have received National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grants for world-leading health and medical research projects.

Funding includes a $2.5 million Centre for Research Excellence (CRE), seven Investigator Grants and an NHMRC Development Grant. The Investigator Grant scheme is one of NHMRC’s new flagship funding schemes.

Centre for Research Excellence

The CRE, Supporting Participatory Evidence generation to Control Transmissible diseases in our Region Using Modelling (SPECTRUM), will tackle infectious disease control. It will enhance national and regional decision-making to improve the control of transmissible disease, strengthen health systems and reduce risks.

Professor Jodie McVernon, Director of Doherty Epidemiology at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, will head up the Centre:

“The SPECTRUM CRE will enhance national and regional decision making to improve the control of infectious diseases, strengthen health systems and reduce the risks of emerging and drug resistant infections” said Professor McVernon.

Investigator Grants

  • Professor Katherine Kedzierska

    Head of the Human T cell Laboratory, Department of Microbiology and Immunology | NHMRC Senior Research Fellow

    Project: Harnessing universal immunity to influenza (awarded: $2,482,424)

    This research will identify key factors that drive the severe and fatal influenza disease in high-risk groups, including the young, elderly, pregnant women and Indigenous Australians. Findings on the optimal human immunity to influenza viruses will be applicable to other infectious diseases and tumours.

  • Dr Sarah Dunstan

    Senior Research Fellow, Peter Doherty Institute

    Project: Genomics to inform new tools for Tuberculosis (awarded: $2,196,882)

    This research project will use cutting-edge genomic technologies to provide critical knowledge and the momentum needed for improved vaccines, drugs and diagnostic tests for Tuberculosis.

  • Professor Kanta Subbarao

    Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza, Peter Doherty Institute

    Project: Translating virus biology and host immunity for influenza control (awarded: $1,800,000)

    Professor Subbarao's research will examine human and animal influenza viruses and immunity to flu infection and vaccines, to improve seasonal flu vaccines and better prepare for future pandemics.

  • Associate Professor Deborah Williamson

    Deputy Director of the Microbiological Diagnostic Unit Public Health Laboratory (MDU PHL) | Laboratory Head, Department of Microbiology and Immunology

    Project: Applying pathogen genomics to the prevention and control of antimicrobial resistance (awarded: $1,393,588)

    Using cutting-edge molecular techniques (‘genomics’) to prevent and control Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in a range of settings, this research will provide evidence for the routine use of these technologies in everyday clinical and public health practice.

  • Associate Professor Laura Mackay

    Laboratory Head, Peter Doherty Institute

    Project: Enhancing immunity by tissue-resident memory T-cells (awarded: $1,200,000)

    This research aims to provide a greater understanding of how these T cells can be generated and function within tissues, which will open the way to utilise these cells in new immunotherapeutic strategies.

  • Dr Simone Park

    Cancer Council Victoria Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Microbiology & Immunology

    Project: Tissue-resident memory T cells in solid cancer immunotherapy (awarded: $639,750)

    This project seeks to determine how effective immune responses can be generated against solid cancers including melanoma. Dr Park will investigate whether manipulating local immune cells could serve as a strategy to improve immunotherapy against solid cancers.

  • Dr Adam Wheatley

    Peter Doherty Institute, Department of Microbiology and Immunology

    Project: Advancing influenza vaccines for broad and durable protection (awarded: $602,250)

    This research project will define the potential for protective, cross-reactive antibody responses in humans and use this information to identify conserved sites of vulnerability on the hemagglutinin of influenza viruses. This will inform the development and assessment of novel influenza vaccine concepts in animal models of human influenza infection

Development Grant

Professor Fabienne Mackay, Head of School Of Biomedical Sciences, has been awarded a $729,770 NHMRC Development Grant for her project, Preclinical development of lupidumab, a transforming new therapy for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia.

Professor Mackay's laboratory has developed a new treatment for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL) which restores life-saving immunity in CLL. This grant will allow the team to demonstrate efficacy of this treatment prior to further development.

Article originally published by the Peter Doherty Institute on 30 August 2019.

Read more