Hudson success in 2024 NHMRC Investigator grants

By Rob Clancy, staff writer

NHMRC 2024 Investigator grants recipients Professor Claudia Nold and Associate Professor Flora Wong
L-R: Professor Claudia Nold and Associate Professor Flora Wong

Two projects promising huge advances in newborn health have been awarded significant funding in the form of 2024 NHMRC Investigator Grants. 

Hudson Institute Group Heads, Professor Claudia Nold and Associate Professor Flora Wong were each awarded grants of more than $2 million over the next five years, enabling them to commit long-term to these exciting research projects.

Prof Nold said when her team found out, the first response was relief but that quickly turned to excitement. With the help of the NHMRC funding, the team can continue its decade-long research which has already produced advances in the treatment of conditions affecting premature babies.

2024 Investigator grants

Prof Nold said: “Research, to me means you search and if you don’t find it you keep going and re-search,” she said. “Step by step, you get closer to your goal.”

“Research can be challenging and it is important not to forget that success is always a team effort of many students, colleagues and collaborators. I want to thank everyone who stood by me and our team to achieve this success so we can improve the care of infants and children to make a real difference to their own and their families’ lives.”

A/Prof Flora Wong, who also has appointments as a neonatologist at Monash Health and Monash University, will use this award to continue her work on brain injury in premature infants, focussing on preventing and detecting disruptions in neurovascular coupling (NVC) – the vital brain function that regulates brain oxygen supply to match the oxygen demand.

She and her team have developed advanced neuroimaging available to few groups in the world, bringing together scientists and clinicians to create a major step towards personalised, ‘brain-oriented’ Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs).

Associate Professor Claudia Nold from the Interventional Immunology in Early Life Diseases Research Group at Hudson Institute

Developing and repurposing therapies: pioneering interventional immunology for early life diseases and beyond

Professor Claudia Nold

2024 Investigator Grants – Leadership 2 (L2)

Amount: $2,924,080

Inflammation is a key driver of many early life diseases. Diagnosis of the underlying causes is often difficult and safe and effective treatments are limited. The goal of this research is to generate novel immunological insights in the field of early-life disease, which will assist in the discovery of biomarkers and the development of novel anti-inflammatory treatments. In addition, the team will also investigate if already-approved medications could be used to treat early-life disease. The goal is to achieve advances in the care of infants and children that make a real difference to their own and their families’ lives.

Associate Professor Flora Wong from the Neonatal Brian Protection Research Group at Hudson Institute

Personalising brain care in preterm babies

Associate Professor Flora Wong

2024 Investigator Grants – Leadership 1 (L1)

Amount: $2,396,372

Brain injury is common in infants born preterm, leading to serious, life-long neurodevelopmental problems with no cure currently available. The project vision is the implementation of personalised and ‘brain-oriented’ care. Having previously identified how preterm birth leads to low brain oxygen supply which causes brain injury, the goals are to detect brain injury early in preterm infants and to personalise their hospital treatment in order to reduce brain injury and improve neurodevelopmental outcomes.

This research was supported by | The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)

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