NHMRC presents 2021 Research Excellence Awards

Friday, 01 April, 2022

NHMRC presents 2021 Research Excellence Awards

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) presented its annual Research Excellence Awards on 30 March, recognising the top-ranked applicants to each of NHMRC’s major funding schemes during the past year.

Professor Trevor Leong from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre was the inaugural recipient of the NHMRC David Cooper Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies Award, for his research investigating the use of chemoradiotherapy versus chemotherapy for patients with gastric cancer. Prof Leong is a Director of the Australasian Gastro-Intestinal Trials Group (AGITG), the sponsoring organisation for the TOPGEAR trial to answer important questions about the best use of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, in addition to surgery, for gastric cancer.

Professor Melissa Little from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute was the recipient of the 2021 NHMRC Marshall and Warren Ideas Grant Award. Prof Little is known for her pioneering research developing mini kidneys — called organoids — grown in a dish from stem cells derived from adult skin or blood cells (pluripotent stem cells). She is using novel engineering approaches to integrate the transplanted tissue to the host kidney and improve prototypes for transplantation.

Dr Simon Graham from the Doherty Institute received the 2021 NHMRC Sandra Eades Investigator Grant Award (Emerging Leadership). Dr Graham is an epidemiologist who, through his Investigator Grant, will be working in the Global Outbreak Response Network at the World Health Organization to examine how the organisation coordinates and deploys specialist teams to investigate and stop an outbreak in different countries. He will also work with a cohort of Aboriginal people to develop an outbreak response and coordination guide to empower Aboriginal communities to stop syphilis outbreaks.

Other awardees and their research areas include:

  • Professor Dale Godfrey, University of Melbourne — 2021 NHMRC Peter Doherty Investigator Grant Award (Leadership) — Unconventional T cells: Fundamental biology and therapeutic potential.
  • Professor Brett Mitchell, University of Newcastle — 2021 NHMRC Peter Doherty Investigator Grant Award (Emerging Leadership) — Building evidence for strategies to prevent healthcare-acquired infections.
  • Professor Susan Ramus, UNSW — 2021 NHMRC Elizabeth Blackburn Investigator Grants Award - Basic Science (Leadership) — Developing clinical tests to improve treatment for ovarian cancer patients.
  • Laureate Professor Clare Collins, University of Newcastle — 2021 NHMRC Elizabeth Blackburn Investigator Grant Award - Clinical Medicine and Science (Leadership) — Generating new knowledge on cost-effective models of care to reduce diet-related health risks.
  • Professor Louise Baur, University of Sydney — 2021 NHMRC Elizabeth Blackburn Investigator Grant Award - Public Health (Leadership) — Transforming the prevention and treatment of child and adolescent obesity.
  • Professor Julie Redfern, University of Sydney 2021 NHMRC Elizabeth Blackburn Investigator Grant Award - Health Services (Leadership) — Modernising cardiac rehabilitation and secondary prevention of heart disease.
  • Professor Andrew Roberts, WEHI — 2021 NHMRC Fiona Stanley Synergy Grant Award — Understanding and averting blood cancer resistance to therapy.
  • Doctor Hyon Xhi Tan, University of Melbourne — 2021 NHMRC Frank Fenner Investigator Grant Award (Emerging Leadership) — Driving rational improvement of vaccines against respiratory viruses.
  • Doctor Ouli Xie, University of Melbourne — 2021 NHMRC Gustav Nossal Postgraduate Scholarship Award — Analysing the evolution of Streptococcal pathovars to inform prevention and treatment approaches to combat streptococcal disease.
  • Associate Professor Nigel Beebe, University of Queensland — 2021 NHMRC Marshall and Warren Innovation Award — Removing mosquito populations by releasing incompatible males: a species-specific biocontrol for urban arbovirus vectors.

NHMRC CEO Professor Anne Kelso said the awards are an opportunity to celebrate Australian excellence in health and medical research at a time when community appreciation of the significance of research to our health and wellbeing is high.

“Today’s NHMRC Research Excellence Award recipients are our present and future research leaders,” Prof Kelso said. “They follow in the footsteps of earlier giants of Australian research as they seek to understand and solve the health challenges that face our community today.”

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