UNSW Sydney researchers have been awarded over $14 million in federal government funding for cutting-edge health and medical research.

The Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) grants went towards five projects including therapy for gastrointestinal immune disorders and improving the diagnosis of rare genetic diseases.

The MRFF aims to transform health and medical research and innovation to improve lives, build the economy and contribute to health system sustainability. The fund also supports early and mid-career researchers so more Australians can access clinical trials.

“This research will lead to earlier diagnosis of a number of serious diseases and common chronic illnesses, with the promise of earlier treatments that will make a real difference to people’s lives,” Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler said.

Interim Dean of UNSW Medicine & Health Professor Adrienne Torda applauded the academics on receiving grants in this round of MRFF funding.

“I’m proud of my colleagues who have received MRFF funding for their research which will improve the lives of patients and their communities. The projects cover a broad range of medical issues from gastrointestinal immune disorders through to improving the diagnosis of rare genetic diseases. I look forward to seeing the outcomes of these projects which will have a positive health impact on many Australians,” Prof. Torda said.

Genome sequencing for Parkinson's disease

Dr Kishore Kumar from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and UNSW Medicine & Health received $2.95 million for the Monogenic Parkinson’s Disease Australia Initiative (MonoPDAus) focused on precision medicine.

"We are really excited to be genome sequencing 1000 participants for Parkinson's disease research as part of the MonoPDAus study," Dr Kumar said.

Therapy for gastrointestinal disorders

Professor Joseph Powell from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research & UNSW Medicine & Health received $2.76 million for a project on genetically guided therapy for gastrointestinal autoimmune disorders including inflammatory bowel disease.

“This grant will enable us to develop a test that will allow clinicians to choose the most effective therapy for patients suffering from inflammatory bowel disease,” Prof. Powell said.

Diagnosis of rare genetic diseases

Dr Ira Deveson from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and UNSW Medicine & Health received $2.93 million for a national program deploying cutting-edge long-read sequencing technology to improve the diagnosis of rare genetic diseases.

“Long-read sequencing gives us a more complete picture of a patient’s genome than currently possible, and we believe this technology can streamline and improve diagnosis of rare genetic diseases,” Dr Deveson said.

Read more: UNSW academics receive more than $23m for health and medical research 

Management of atypical immune diseases

Professor Stuart Tangye from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and UNSW Medicine & Health received $2.93 million for a project focusing on an integrated approach to accelerate the diagnosis and management of rare immune diseases.

“With this funding, our goal is to double the rate of genetic diagnosis of rare immune diseases to 70 per cent by 2025,” Prof. Tangye said.

Improving health outcomes of patients impacted by genetic muscle conditions

Dr Emily Oates from UNSW Science has been granted $3 million for a project which will significantly improve health outcomes for Australians impacted by a potentially life-limiting group of muscle conditions – the genetic rhabdomyolyses. The goal is to find genetic diagnoses for rhabdomyolysis patients who remain without a confirmed diagnosis despite comprehensive clinical genetic testing.

“We are just so incredibly excited about this grant and how it will benefit the lives of Australian individuals and families impacted by this often devasting and potentially life-limiting group of conditions,” Dr Oates said.

A total of 25 projects from across Australia will share in the latest funding round. For a full list of recipients visit the MRFF grant list.