Monash Health researchers successful in NHMRC Investigator grants

Recipients of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Investigator Grants

We are proud to announce that the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS) has received over $7.5 million in the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Investigator grants announced last week.

NHMRC Investigator grants support research across biomedical, clinical, public health and health services research and researchers at all career stages.

The grants aim to enable support and flexibility for investigators to pursue important new research directions as they arise and to form collaborations as needed.

SCS’s successful grants included three from researchers who have clinical appointments at Monash Health.

Professor Eric Morand, Department of Medicine

Unlike most autoimmune diseases, there has been no significant breakthrough in the treatment of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) for over 50 years.

Because of this, treatment for SLE relies on non-specific immunosuppressant drugs and glucocorticoids and the impact on patients, who are mostly young women, includes high mortality and poor quality of life.

Professor Eric Morand’s study will validate novel evidence-based endpoints which will break the impasse in SLE drug development. In parallel, Professor Morand will exploit preliminary data to develop a marker for use in directing GC dosing in SLE, and pursue the development of novel compounds with the potential to replace GC in SLE in the future.

Professor Peter Ebling, Department of Medicine

There has been a significant decline in treatment rates of osteoporosis patients with fractures due to the fear of rate complications such as atypical femur fractures (AFF).

Professor Peter Ebling’s research aims to increase osteoporosis treatment uptake and reassure a large proportion of the population that they are not at risk of AFF based on a favourable femoral alignment (Femoral Alignment Score from hip DXA).

Professor Peter Ebeling will also enhance the ascertainment of AFF by using artificial intelligence and machine learning approaches, so software is incorporated into routine radiological practice.

Dr Jun Yang, Department of Medicine

Dr Jun Yang’s grant will support her research into demonstrating Australia’s high prevalence of primary aldosteronism (PA) or Conn’s Syndrome – a condition of excessive aldosterone production from the adrenal gland.

Hypertension is a leading risk factor for death and disability globally and affects close to 6 million Australian adults. PA is the second most common cause of hypertension, affecting 5-10 percent of hypertensive patients in primary care. However, the condition is substantially underdiagnosed in Australia with data suggesting that over half a million hypertensive Australians are missing out on a targeted treatment or cure.

The diagnosis of PA remains challenging, time-consuming and costly, and involves hospital stays. There is a need for alternative diagnostic tests that are simpler, less operator dependent and outpatient based.

Dr Yang’s goal is to establish recommendations for the best strategy to screen and accurately diagnose PA to achieve optimal cardiovascular and renal health outcomes.

Congratulations to all of the NHMRC Investigator grant recipients, we wish you all the best in your research.




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