Projects to treat and prevent HIV, reduce the impact of sepsis in critically ill patients, and improve universal child health are some of the major UNSW Sydney winners in the latest National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding announced by Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.

UNSW was awarded $47 million for 31 projects – 29 investigator grants and 2 partnership projects – across the Faculties of Medicine, Science, Engineering and Arts and Social Sciences.

More than $44 million for 29 projects was awarded to UNSW researchers under the new Investigator Grant Scheme, providing five-year funding certainty for high performing health and medical researchers from all career stages.

Within UNSW’s affiliated medical research institutes, six grants were awarded to The Garvan Institute of Medical Research, two to Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) and five to The George Institute for Global Health. One grant was awarded to a project from the Black Dog Institute. UNSW Medicine received a total of 26 grants worth a total of $38.5 million.

This places UNSW third overall among Australia’s leading Group of Eight universities in this round of funding.

UNSW Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Nicholas Fisk said this new funding underscores the exceptional scope of discovery and dedication of UNSW’s researchers and their teams in tackling society’s major health challenges.

“This inaugural round of the Investigator Grants scheme, combining five year fellowship and project costs, was always going to be highly competitive. This result is outstanding,” Professor Fisk said. “The results highlight UNSW’s exceptional research with multiple grants in transmission and prevention of HIV, and in reducing the burden of mental and neurological illness.”

Some of the UNSW recipients include:

  • Professor Andrew Grulich, from the Kirby Institute, received $3.4 million towards the elimination of HIV and control of related conditions in gay and bisexual men. Professor Grulich's research will continue to lead Australia towards HIV elimination, controlling sexually transmitted infections and reducing cancer-related death in people with HIV.
  • Associate Professor Joseph Powell, from The Garvan Institute of Medical Research, was awarded $3.1 million for examining genetic control of complex diseases at a cellular level.
  • Scientia Professor Richard Bryant, from UNSW Science, received $2.7 million to examine advancing post-traumatic mental health. Professor Bryant's research program will focus on identifying key factors that promote recovery from psychological trauma, and will evaluate strategies to disseminate approaches to those in need of assistance, including global programs in low and middle income countries.
  • Professor Matthew Law, from the Kirby Institute, was awarded $2.6 million to investigate the treatment and prevention of HIV and sexually transmitted infections.
  • Scientia Professor Philip Mitchell, from UNSW Medicine, received $2.4 million to help improve outcomes for youth at risk of bipolar disorder.
  • Professor John Myburgh, from the George Institute for Global Health, will use $2.1 million to research the impact of sepsis in critically ill patients, particularly antimicrobial and neuroendocrine initiatives to reduce the burden of disease. Professor Myburgh's research will focus on understanding two antibiotic strategies to reduce death in seriously ill patients without increasing antibiotic resistance, and developing strategies that will understand patient responses to increased survival.
  • Dr Rona Chandrawati, from UNSW Engineering, will use $1.5 million to explore bioactive coatings to improve function and lifetime of implantable medical devices.
  • Associate Professor Samuel Harvey, from the Black Dog Institute and UNSW Medicine, was awarded $1.5 million for improving the mental health of Australian workers. The program will address the risks of becomg mentally unwell at work and how Australian workers can be better protected. 
  • Dr Amy Peacock, from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre and UNSW Medicine, was awarded $1.4 million for quantifying and reducing the burden of alcohol and illicit drug use.
  • Professor Valsamma Eapen, from UNSW Medicine, was awarded $1.1 million for changing practice to improve universal child health and developmental surveillance in the primary care setting. The program aims to maximise early detection of behavioural disorders that are first evident in early childhood.

For a full list of recipients click here.