Pioneering UNSW research in neuroscience and vascular cell and molecular biology has received $8 million backing from the Federal Government in the latest round of funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Two UNSW researchers, Professors George Paxinos and Levon Khachigian, received the prestigious Australia Fellowship awards worth $4 million each.

The awards - the most prestigious and hotly contested of the NHMRC Fellowships - give a significant boost to groundbreaking medical research.

Twelve winners were presented with gold medals by Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, Senator Jan McLucas, at a ceremony at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in Sydney.

For Scientia Professor Paxinos, from the Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute, the accolade is a culmination of a 36-year career at UNSW. He will use his funding to construct a new generation of atlases so that genetic and imaging research can be used to develop treatments for major neurological diseases.

"This award means I will be able to do the maps that I've always wanted to do before I hang up my tools. That is of the human cortex and imaging maps of the mouse, rat and human brain," he said.

Professor Khachigian, from the Centre for Vascular Research, will use his Fellowship to uncover new processes that govern the expression of disease-causing genes, and to further develop a new class of experimental drug that has the potential to treat a diverse range of health problems, from cancer and inflammation through to eye and heart disease. Clinical trials exploiting his pioneering work will commence in skin cancer patients this year.

UNSW Conjoint Professor Richard Harvey, from the Victor Chang Institute, also received a $4 million boost for his work on congenital heart disease.

Also announced recently was a $2.4 million NHMRC capacity building grant awarded to Professor Perminder Sachdev, who is developing a cohort of young researchers who can translate knowledge of the major neuropsychiatric problems facing Australia's ageing population.

The University's next generation of health and medical researchers was further recognised last month with eight investigators winning NHMRC Postdoctoral Training Fellowships and seven recognised with NHMRC Postgraduate Scholarships.

Media contact: Steve Offner | 02 9385 8107 | 0424 580 208 |