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UON in top 8 of Australian universities for health research

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Source: University of Newcastle

A University of Newcastle (UON) drug trial that has delivered rapid treatment benefits for stroke victims has attracted more than $3.9 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in its 2014 funding round.

Led by UON’s Professor Mark Parsons, Director of the John Hunter Hopsital’s Acute Stroke Services, and Dr Chris Levi, Director of Clinical Research and Translation at HNEH, the study explores the effectiveness of clot-busting drug Tenecteplase, more commonly used for heart attacks, as an alternative to conventional stroke treatments. Professor Parsons said the multi-million dollar grant would dramatically bolster the research team’s investigations.

“It’s the most important stroke trial in the last 20 years, and this NHMRC funding will allow us to roll out the study across Australia and internationally,” Professor Parsons said.

“The outcome of our trial will be monumental, and has the capacity to change clinical practice substantially.”

Overall, UON researchers received more than $17.8 million in funding from NHMRC in the 2014 funding round. The University achieved success above the national average in the grants process, with 24 UON proposals receiving funding.  

UON Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Kevin Hall, said the outstanding NHMRC funding outcome was testament to the University’s reputation for conducting world-class research.

“The University of Newcastle boasts some of the most accomplished, innovative and internationally-renowned minds in health and medicine,” Professor Hall said. 

“Research carried out at the University benefits not only the Hunter community, but also creates impact both nationally, and worldwide. Today’s announcement of almost $18 million in new funding will allow our academics to continue to lead the way in health and medical research.”

Pro Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Health and Medicine, Laureate Professor John Aitken, said he was delighted with the success of the faculty’s research teams. 

“The breadth of our research strengths was demonstrated in a range of fields including neuroscience, asthma and lung disease, reproductive medicine, public health and cardiovascular and cancer research,” Professor Aitken said. 

“This is a testament to our successful engagement with key partners, providing the foundation for research growth and the potential for breakthrough discoveries within our areas of excellence.”

Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) Director, Professor Michael Nilsson, said the results were further evidence of the importance of translational research.

“The funding boost is also a wonderful reward for HMRI’s community supporters who’ve seed-funded many of the successful projects,” Professor Nilsson said.

The NHMRC funding announcement includes support for the following projects: 

•         $2.5 million to Conjoint Professor Peter Gibson for the establishment of a National Clinical Centre for Research Excellence in Severe Asthma;

•         $1.1 million to Associate Professor Jonathan Hirst to examine whether perinatal stress leads to neurosteroid deficits and adverse behavioural outcomes; 

•         $1 million to Professor Joerg Mattes to assess the effect of asthma control during pregnancy on markers of airway inflammation and lung function in offspring;

•         $1 million to Professor Philip Hansbro to examine modifying epigenetics as a novel treatment in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease; and

•         $1 million to Dr Elizabeth Holliday for her study targeting optimal thrombolysis outcomes.


HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.