La Trobe University has won nearly $2 million in funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council to further investigations into major health issues affecting Australians.
The researchers – Dr Julie Atkin, Dr Adam Walker, Dr Diana Stojanovski, Professor Michael Ryan, Dr Lisa Amir, and Professor Hylton Menz – are all leaders in their fields. Professor Tim Brown, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), congratulated the scientists upon their awards.
‘Each winner is undertaking research that is both of major importance in its field and of benefit to Australian health. Their research highlights the breadth of research undertaken in health sciences at La Trobe University, for which it is rightly recognised internationally.’
Dr Julie Atkin received a $419,925 Project Grant for research into a critical biochemical process central to motor neuron disease. Motor neuron disease (MND) is a neurodegenerative disease which causes progressive paralysis due to the death of the neurons connecting the brain with the muscles of the body.
Symptoms typically begin at approximately 55 years of age, and the disease is inevitably fatal, usually within 2-5 years after symptom onset. Although approximately ten per cent of MND cases are inherited, only a small proportion have known genetic defects, and the cause of the vast majority of MND cases remains unknown.
A colleague, Dr Adam Walker was awarded a four-year overseas-based Early Career Fellowship for $303,924 to investigate mechanisms of dementia and motor neuron disease. He will undertake the first two years of this research at the world-renowned Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research at the University of Pennsylvania.
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Dr Diana Stojanovski and Professor Michael Ryan have secured $296,175 to continue working on their research into mitochondria and mechanisms that regulate its role in programmed cell death. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of cells and play a central role in energy generation. La Trobe University is an international leader in mitochondrial research.
Dr Lisa Amir has received a $273,752 three-year Career Development Fellowship to study strategies to increase breastfeeding duration in Australia. One of the highest achieving early career researchers in the field, Dr Amir is a medical practitioner with a long-standing interest in women’s health. Her research into breastfeeding ranges from rates and determinants of breastfeeding, to nipple and breast pain in breastfeeding women, to GPs’ knowledge and attitudes towards the use of medicines for breastfeeding women.
Professor Hylton Menz has been awarded a five-year Research Fellowship to study ways of improving the health and quality of life of older people with foot disorders. The $655,910 Fellowship marks yet another achievement for him this year. Director of the Musculoskeletal Research Centre at La Trobe University, Professor Menz’s broad research disciplines are human movement, rehabilitation and rheumatology, with a particular focus on musculoskeletal foot problems in older people. (PU)
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