Funding boost for NSW health and medical research

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Two Western Sydney University researchers have received grants under the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Investigator Grants.

Over $2 million is being invested in projects that will help improve Australians’ health and deliver better healthcare as we begin to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Liberal Senator for Western Sydney, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, said the grants were an investment in the future of Australian healthcare innovation and delivery, and illustrates the growing innovation in Western Sydney.

“The grants will help support local researchers develop and deliver new technologies and world class healthcare to all Australians,” Senator Payne said.

“The funding to Western Sydney University is a welcome announcement and demonstrates the important role of Western Sydney as a research and innovation hub for Australia.

Investigator Grants recipient, Western Sydney University’s Associate Professor Steiner hopes this research enables older people to remain independent, stay functioning with diminished disability from dementia.

“Cognitive training is an early intervention and prevention strategy that offers hope for people with the early signs of dementia and shows promise in delaying deterioration, reducing dementia risk and its incidence,” says Associate Professor Steiner.

“The challenge, however, is to translate what we know about cognitive training to improve the everyday lives of Australians affected by the condition. This research program aims to optimise cognitive training by enhancing neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s in-built ability to adapt and rewire itself.”

Investigator Grants recipient, Western Sydney University’s Dr Caleb Ferguson will conduct a new trial into the world’s most common heart rhythm disorder, atrial fibrillation (AF), a condition where the heart beats irregularly.

“INFORM-AF builds on previous successful research programs at the University that partner with patients, families, clinicians and key stakeholders in educational intervention development, and evaluation,” said Dr Ferguson.

Western Sydney University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice President (Research, Enterprise and International) Professor Deborah Sweeney, commended the researchers on leading these important programs that will help improve the quality of life for many Australians.

“These grants reflect Western Sydney University’s investment and commitment to improving health in our region and internationally, and shine a spotlight on the world-class expertise and translational health capabilities in our schools and research institutes,” said Professor Sweeney.

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, said the medical research funding was further evidence of the Morrison Government’s commitment to “strengthening Australians’ health and well-being.”

“Medical research plays a vital role in our national health system,” Mr Hunt said. “Australian researchers continue to innovate, even during these almost unprecedented times and this $120 million investment in New South Wales will continue the proud Australian tradition of medical discovery and translation into better health for all.”

The Morrison Government will invest almost $120 million in New South Wales based, world-leading health and medical research projects to improve the lives of all Australians.

Our Government will strengthen Australians’ health through research to prevent illness and deliver better health care as we recover and restore our nation in the aftermath (face of) of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of 75 new projects in New South Wales will receive funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), with a further eight grants to be funded through the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Priority Round.

Funding will support research in the areas of:

  • Cancer - $24.1 million
  • Cardiovascular Disease - $16.4 million
  • Mental health - $21.0 million
  • Indigenous - $4.3 million
  • Infectious diseases - $15.9 million

The funding comes as part of the Government’s almost $400 million investment into health and medical research across the nation.

While this round was closed for submissions last year, we are currently in the process of awarding $42 million for COVID research through the MRFF.

Medical research is one of the core elements of the Australian Government’s $104 billion Long Term National Health Plan. This vital investment across the broad health spectrum will continue the proud Australian tradition of discovery and translation for the better health for all.

A full list of grant recipients is available on NHMRC’s website: