Research to improve the lives of drug users and a project to investigate the high rates of falls in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the biggest UNSW Sydney winners in the final round of NHMRC funding for 2017 announced on Wednesday.

The Kirby Institute at UNSW will receive $9 million for a Program Grant to conduct research to explore how recent advances in hepatitis C therapy, and improved drug dependency management, can provide opportunities to improve the lives of people with problematic drug use.

The project will bring together researchers from the Kirby Institute, led by Professor Greg Dore and Professor Andrew Lloyd, and the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), to address these major issues.

Professor Rebecca Ivers of the George Institute for Global Health and UNSW Medicine, will receive $3 million for a project grant to prevent falls in Aboriginal communities, which are the leading cause of hospitalisation for older people.

The Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, announced on Wednesday that, across Australia, a total of 732 projects would receive $640 million worth of funding for projects in areas including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dementia.

In total, $83.8 million was awarded in competitive NHMRC grants in 2017 to 80 projects administered by UNSW – a success rate of 19.7%. This included 37 project grants and a record program grant of $24 million for research to prevent and treat cardiometabolic disease, led by Professor Bruce Neal of The George Institute, announced last month.

Other grant recipients announced on Wednesday include:

Associate Professor Kim Delbaere of UNSW Medicine and Neuroscience Research Australia will receive $1,475,781 for a study on maximising fall prevention in older people;

Professor Richard Mattick of UNSW Medicine and NDARC will receive $1,127,690 for a study on the effect of parental supply of alcohol to children;

Professor Guy Marks of UNSW Medicine and Woolcock Institute of Medical Research will receive $1,041,409 for a study on air pollution and the mortality and morbidity in Australians;

Dr Arne Ittner of UNSW Medicine will receive $943,902 for a study on the Tau protein to treat and understand Alzheimer’s disease;

Professor Hongyuan Yang of UNSW Science will receive $888,340 for a study on the role of adipose tissue cholesterol in metabolic diseases;

Dr Irina Voineagu of UNSW Science will receive $621,128 for a study investigating the molecular signature of autistic spectrum disorder through integrative genomics;

Associate Professor Ruiting Lan of UNSW Science will receive $480,531 for a biomolecular study of the whooping cough bacterium.