Grant success: Kirby Institute awarded more than $10M in latest round of NHMRC funding

The Kirby Institute’s high impact research will receive a $10 million boost, with six successful researchers receiving funds through the NHMRC’s new and highly competitive Investigator Grants scheme.

The scheme, announced yesterday by the Minister for Health, the Honourable Greg Hunt, provides a total of $440 million to support medical research projects through universities and institutions across Australia.

In a highly competitive funding environment, the Kirby Institute had an overall grant application success rate of 37%, substantially higher than the national average of 13%. This result reflects the Kirby Institute’s standing as one of Australia’s leading infectious disease research institutes and also recognises the exceptional talent of its researchers.

The funds will support Kirby Institute researchers to lead projects aimed to understand, prevent and eliminate HIV, hepatitis C and malaria in Australia and globally.

The Kirby Institute’s Director, Professor Anthony Kelleher welcomed the announcement with excitement. “We are in an exceptional position to produce cutting-edge research that has the ability to significantly reduce the burden of infectious diseases not just in Australia, but globally. These new grants will enable our researchers to innovate and broaden the scope of their world-class work.”

The new investigator scheme has been established to provide researchers with flexibility to pursue important new research directions as they arise and to form collaborations as needed, rather than being restricted to the scope of a specific research project.

Congratulations to the Kirby Institute researchers who were awarded 2019 NHMRC Investigator Grants:

  • Professor Andrew Grulich will lead research that works towards the elimination of HIV and control of related conditions in gay and bisexual men, such as STIs and human papillomavirus-related anal cancers. Through the development of STI screening programs, and investigating new behavioural and biomedical HIV prevention methods, Professor Grulich’s work will address the unintended consequences of increasing STI risk in gay and bisexual men whilst finding new ways to eliminate HIV transmission among this population.
  • Professor Matthew Law’s grant will go towards the treatment and prevention of HIV and STIs through the use of biostatistical and mathematical models. With a focus on Australia and Asia, Professor Law’s research will assess factors that predict outcomes in HIV positive people including the development of other chronic illnesses, as well as identify optimal screening and treatment strategies for HIV and STIs.
  • Focusing on hepatitis C elimination for people who inject drugs, Professor Jason Grebely’s grant will broaden the scope and increase the impact of his research program. This significant funding will enable him to establish new projects that cross a range of disciplines to develop and evaluate innovative strategies to enhance hepatitis C testing, treatment, and linkage to care among people who inject drugs.
  • Professor Miles Davenport’s grant will bolster the research program he leads at the Kirby Institute, which applies mathematical modelling and analysis to experimental data in HIV, malaria and immune development to elicit new insights, informing future clinical trial development.
  • Dr Deborah Cromer, an applied mathematician, also received an Investigator Grant which will support her work that applies models to explore and understand the key factors of HIV reactivation from latency. Her work also applies mathematical modelling to understand the mechanism of action of antimalarial drugs, and to assess the impact of past and future childhood vaccination programs.
  • Dr Chaturaka Rodrigo will use his grant to study dengue fever. Dengue fever causes significant morbidity in many tropical countries and there is an increasing trend for cases reported in Australia. Dr Rodrigo will investigate viral genomic and host genomic/immunological markers that could predict severe disease for targeted monitoring of patients.

Date published: 
Friday, 30 August 2019