Research to prevent falls in older people and to combat hepatitis C infection are among the big winners in a new round of federal government health funding.

The projects have each attracted close to $1.5 million in the Partnerships for Better Health Grants - a new NHMRC grant category aimed at helping investigators work directly with health organisations to tailor research to real world situations.

UNSW dominated the funding round, winning $4 million out of $21 million - the highest dollar amount of any University.

A team led by Professor Stephen Lord at the Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute (POWMRI) was awarded $1.499 million to develop strategies to reduce the numbers of falls and fall-related injuries in older people.

"Falls are a major burden on national health budgets," said the team's Senior Research Officer, Daina Sturnieks. "One in three people over 65 falls at least once every year and that figure increases with age and frailty."

"If nothing is done, projections show that by 2050 Australia will require an extra 3,000 nursing home places and ten 200-bed hospitals, just to deal with the issue.

"The NHMRC support will enable us to better understand falls in older people and moderate this serious public health problem," she said.

Professor Greg Dore, from UNSW's National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research (NCHECR), will receive $1.495 million in funding to extend hepatitis C treatments for injecting drug users.

"A focus will be on evaluating pilot hepatitis C treatment services in NSW methadone clinics," Professor Dore said. "Until now treatment has largely been in hospital settings with limited access in primary health care-based services."

Additional qualitative research would identify what barriers to treatment existed among clients and medical staff, Professor Dore said.

UNSW's other successful projects focus on reducing alcohol related harms and helping general practitioners prevent chronic disease in their patients.

Associate Professor Alison Ritter, from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, will receive $225,000 to develop an internet-based model to reduce alcohol-related harm in Perth.

Professor Mark Harris, from the Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity, was awarded $744,498 to work with general practitioners on the prevention of chronic disease.

Media contact: Steve Offner | 02 9385 8107 |