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30 August 2019

Institute news

Institute scientists to lead novel research in diabetes complications, heart disease, inflammatory diseases and antibiotic resistance

Understanding the risk factors and interventions to prevent diabetes complications, and developing innovative ways to tackle heart disease and inflammatory diseases are two leading Baker Institute projects supported by a new National Health and Medical Research Council funding scheme.

Diabetes physician and researcher, Professor Jonathan Shaw is the recipient of a $2.3m five-year Leadership Investigator Grant to better understand the epidemiology of diabetes complications, including identifying new risk factors and population trends.

Professor Shaw aims to advance understanding of the changing face of the complications of diabetes, including the emergence of ‘novel’ complications such as heart failure, cognitive and physical dysfunction, and liver disease.

Cardiologist and researcher, Professor Karlheinz Peter will utilise a $2.5m five-year Leadership Investigator Grant to develop novel treatments for heart disease, inflammatory diseases and cancers.

Professor Peter and colleagues have already developed unique molecular probes and imaging approaches to pinpoint high-risk blood clots and obstructed arteries, paving the way to apply this to the early diagnosis of heart and inflammatory diseases.

He hopes these innovative diagnostic and therapeutic approaches will continue to open up commercialisation and translation opportunities.

Cardiologist and researcher Dr Sandeep Prabhu received a $523,000 Emerging Leadership Investigator Grant to look at treatment options for two heart conditions that impact an increasing number of Australians — heart failure and the most common type of heart rhythm disorder, atrial fibrillation.

Dr Prabhu will conduct a large, international trial to look at the role of catheter ablation, a minimally invasive procedure used to remove or terminate a faulty electrical pathway from sections of the hearts, to treat both heart failure and atrial fibrillation.

Bioinformatics expert, Associate Professor David Ascher, who joined the Institute earlier this year, is the recipient of a $1.5m Emerging Leadership Investigator Grant through the University of Melbourne that will strengthen the Institute’s collaborations with the university.

He will use high-powered computing to better understand antimicrobial resistance at the protein level and to advance the design of drugs less prone to develop resistance.

It was also pleasing to see 6th year funding extensions to current Research Fellowships for cardiovascular researcher, Associate Professor Julie McMullen and physical activity researcher, Professor David Dunstan.

The Investigator Grant scheme is one of NHMRC’s new flagship funding schemes. The first cohort of Emerging Leadership and Leadership Fellows now have five years of funding certainty, including a research support package to drive their research.

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