La Trobe quadruples ARC Linkage grant success

Posted on July 1, 2013

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Search for a new vaccine against liver fluke, a disease that causes serious economic losses for Australia's livestock industry

Quest for a new vaccine against liver fluke, a disease that causes serious economic losses for the livestock industry

La Trobe University research into major areas of national concern in agriculture, public health, disability, multiculturalism and sport has received $2.57 million in collaborative R&D funding under the Government’s Australian Research Council Linkage Scheme.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Professor Keith Nugent, said this was the University’s best  outcome under the scheme in three years. It represented a four-fold funding increase – and three-fold increase in La Trobe’s success rate – compared with 2012.

‘La Trobe has a long-standing history of engaging with industry and connecting with the community,’ he said.

‘These projects demonstrate the strong relationships developed by La Trobe researchers and will deliver mutually beneficial outcomes for  our partner organisations, the University and the Australian community.’ All are strongly aligned with the University’s new Research Focus Areas, he added.

Funds for the four projects comprise a total of $1.17m from the ARC matched by $1.4m in partner organisation contributions of $432,120 cash and $976,576 in-kind. Professor Nugent said the success places La Trobe fourth in Victoria, and fourth among Australia’s Innovative Research Universities.

Congratulating the research teams on their achievement, he said La Trobe also obtained a high ratio of funding compared with the amounts sought. ‘All four projects received more than 80 per cent of what was requested, which is above the national average of 75.5 per cent.’

Project details

Spithill_web-1Liver fluke is a parasite that causes serious economic losses for livestock producers in southeast Australia. Professor of Agriculture Terry Spithill – who is also co-director of AgriBio, Victoria’s new Centre for AgrioBioscience – said resistance to existing drugs threatened our ability to control the parasite as well as economic productivity in rural communities. He is working with industry targeting parasite proteins using cutting-edge technologies to develop a new vaccine to improve the control of liver fluke disease.

With Australia’s current focus on reforms in the disability sector Professor Christine Bigby from the School of Social Work and Social Policy will carry out research into accommodation services for people with Intellectual disability. The aim is to ensure frontline staff provide high quality support to people with disabilities to help them engage in meaningful activity.

Playing sport can benefit young people, says Dr Ramon Spaaij, a senior research fellow in Humanities and Social Sciences, but by its nature sport is competitive. He is collaborating with bodies including the Australian Football League and Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, to examine whether junior sports clubs manage this need for sporting success while also providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for people of all backgrounds and abilities.

Australians born overseas often have high rates of chronic hepatitis. Professor Marian Pitts from the University’s Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society is working on strengthening community responses to hepatitis B. She will study people’s reaction to the infection and identify barriers to effective health care delivery.

Read more  about the projects and the collaborating partners here