Health research attracts record funding

La Trobe University has secured more than $16 million in this year’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grant awards. It is the largest amount ever awarded to the University by the NHMRC.

The money will support research in areas including cancer, cardiovascular, lung and kidney disease. It also includes public health programs ranging from supporting Indigenous parents with early childhood trauma, to identifying the impact of different alcohol pricing policies in Australia.

The University has this year been awarded $16.4 million across all NHMRC and Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) schemes, nearly two and a half times the amount in 2016 when it was awarded $6.8 million.

This year’s result also represents a 207 per cent increase in funding across all NHMRC schemes compared with three years ago, in 2014, when it was awarded $5.3 million.

La Trobe Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar congratulated the recipients of this year’s NHMRC grants.

“To have attracted our highest ever amount of research funding from the NHMRC this year is testament to the extraordinary calibre of our researchers working across all of our health-related disciplines,” Professor Dewar said.

“This phenomenal result is evidence of La Trobe punching above its weight when it comes to world-leading, high-impact research which will make a real difference to the lives of Australians and communities worldwide.”

Health Minister Greg Hunt today announced the final NHMRC outcomes for 2017, which included $12.5 million awarded to La Trobe in the latest Project Grants and Translating Research into Practice Fellowship scheme.

A total of 13 NHMRC Project Grants spanning the Schools of Life Sciences, Cancer Medicine, Allied Health, Molecular Sciences, Nursing and Midwifery, Psychology and Public Health were funded.

La Trobe Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Keith Nugent said the University had performed exceptionally well in this round and across all of its health-related Schools.

“It is remarkable to have almost quadrupled the figure awarded in Project Grants from last year and satisfying to see such a positive achievement across all of our health-focused Schools,” Professor Nugent said.

“We are also well above the national average when it comes to our success rate of awards achieved, with 21 per cent of our Project grant applications receiving funding compared with an average of about 16 per cent nationally.”

Of these, five projects were awarded over $1 million each.

The largest Project Grant of $1.8 million was awarded to Associate Professor Natasha Lannin from La Trobe’s School of Allied Health to conduct a major trial around determining whether occupational therapy home visits for stroke patients are effective, as well as an economic evaluation conducted alongside the trial to determine the cost-benefits.

Professor Grant Drummond, together with Professor Chris Sobey and Doctor Antony Vinh, all from La Trobe’s School of Life Sciences, will lead two projects with total funding of $1.9 million.

The first will explore potential diagnostics and therapies for debilitating and incurable Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and the second project aims to gain a better understanding of the causes of high blood pressure (hypertension).

In addition to the NHMRC Project Grants, La Trobe was also awarded a Translating Research Into Practice (TRIP) fellowship of $180,000 under the new Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Next Generation Clinical Researchers Program from the MRFF Health Special Account.

Led by Dr Christian Barton from La Trobe’s School of Allied Health, the research project will focus on improving knowledge and skills amongst physiotherapists around implementing appropriate exercise and education for Australians with knee osteoarthritis (osteoarthritis costs the Australian Health System up to $2.1 billion annually).

Fourteen La Trobe researchers also received funding on successful NHMRC grants submitted externally by other institutions.

Summary of NHMRC Grants

Media Contact: Claire Bowers – - 9479 2315 / 0437279903