$10.7 million in research grants awarded to Western Sydney Local Health District

Dr Caleb Ferguson from Blacktown Hospital has been awarded an NHMRC Investigator Grant for his heart research. Picture: Western Sydney University

More than $9 million has been awarded to researchers within Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) in the 2020 National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Investigator Grants.

Investigator Grants provide Australia’s highest-performing researchers with funding to pursue important new directions as they arise, rather than being restricted to the scope of specific projects.

Seven researchers within WSLHD have received one of the grants this year, covering a diverse range of health projects including kidney transplantation, liver disease, heart health and tuberculosis.

In addition, Associate Professor James Chong was awarded $1.5 million through the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) priority funding round for his work in heart regeneration.

Professor Clara Chow’s research explores new ways to manage heart health, the world’s number one killer.

Westmead Health Precinct in particular was particularly well-represented in this round of grants, including at Westmead Institute for Medical Research, Westmead Applied Research Centre, Children’s Medical Research Institute and Institute of Clinical Pathology and Medical Research.

WSLHD chief executive Graeme Loy congratulated all the recipients for the boost to their lifesaving research.

“It’s brilliant to see the revolutionary work being done by the bright minds of Western Sydney,” Graeme said.

“These projects are not simply life-extending but have the potential to improve quality of life for millions of Australians and indeed people around the world.”

Professor Jacob George
Professor Jacob George has received funding for his research into fatty liver disease, which affects one in three Australians.

The WSLHD recipients are as follows.

Dr Justin Beardsley. Determining the size of the problem of lung infection problems due to the mould Aspergillus in Vietnam, where the issue is often wrongly labelled as failed tuberculosis treatment, and how best to address it.

A/Prof James Chong. Developing innovative heart regenerative therapies that could be at the clinical trials stage in the near future. This would mean that new heart muscle, grown from stem cells, could help repair damage caused by a heart attack.

Prof Clara Chow. Exploring low-cost, innovative health service provision and clinical management of heart disease, the leading cause of illness and death worldwide.

Dr Caleb Ferguson. A trial to assess the effectiveness of a digital education program to improve quality of life for people living with the most common heart rhythm disorder, atrial fibrillation.

Prof Jacob George. Using mathematical modelling and genetics to improving treatment of fatty liver disease, which affects one in three Australians.

Prof David Harris. Using genetically-engineered immune cells to prevent organ damage in end-stage kidney disease.

Prof Jonathan Iredell. Bringing together modern genomics and the promise of novel positive therapies to eradicate antibiotic-resistant organisms and genes from people at risk from severe infection.

A/Prof Germaine Wong. Using big data science to predict complications in kidney transplantation, and find new and better ways to identify and treat at-risk individuals.