NHMRC successes: from adolescent medicine to gene therapy

12 December 2018
Grant success

A number of researchers from Kids Research will lead and collaborate on projects supported by the latest round of National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding.

Covering a broad range of disciplines, the projects will improve our understanding of adolescent medicine, gene therapy, immunology, congenital heart disease, cancer and burns to enable the development of innovative treatments with better outcomes for children and their families. 

Adolescent medicine

Professor Rachel Skinner and Dr Helen Cheng from the Department of Adolescent Medicine were both successful in receiving funding for their projects in adolescent risk-taking and adolescent nutrition, respectively.  This fantastic achievement for the Department also marks a milestone for Dr Cheng as her first NHMRC grant as Chief Investigator A.

Dr Cheng and her collaborators from the George Institute for Global Health will explore the impact of having a high sodium-to-potassium ratio in adolescents on the trajectory of blood pressure and cardiovascular risk.

Professor Skinner’s project seeks to understand why some adolescents engage in risk-taking, and will estimate the costs of adolescent risk taking, to our society as a whole, and quantify savings achievable with effective intervention.

Gene therapy

Leading researchers in gene therapy were also successful in securing NHMRC funding for their projects. Professors Ian Alexander and Stephen Alexander from Kids Research, and collaborator Dr Leszek Lisowski from the Children’s Medical Research Institute, received more than $2.2M combined.

Their studies will further explore using modified non-pathogenic viral vectors to treat genetic liver and kidney diseases, as well as improving vector manufacturing processes for the on-site production capacity being established at the Westmead precinct.  

Allergy & Immunology

Professor Dianne Campbell, food allergy expert, and NCIRS researchers Associate Professor Nicholas Wood and Professor Peter McIntyre are investigators on a $3.9M national clinical trials project.   The Children’s Hospital at Westmead is one of the four trial sites, which will compare acellular and whole-cell pertussis vaccines to examine the potential protective benefits of the whole-cell vaccine on the development of food allergies. 


Childhood cancer researchers Professors Tracey O’Brien, Claire Wakefield, Glenn Marshall, Dr Luciano Dalla-Pozza, Associate Professor David Ziegler and Dr Toby Trahair were successful as chief investigators in an NHRMC Partnership project that will examine the economic impact of precision medicine in high risk and aggressive childhood cancer.  

These are some examples of the research projects being advanced at SCHN in partnership with collaborators and the NHMRC. For the full list of successful investigators and more details about each grant, please click here. 

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