NHMRC Fellowships awarded to Hudson Institute researchers

By Hudson Institute communications

Hudson Institute of Medical Research researchers have been awarded National Health and Medical Research Council Fellowships in the latest funding announcements.

Dr Michelle Tate was awarded an National Health and Medical Research Council Fellowships Career Development Fellowship.
Dr Michelle Tate

The fellowships will support researchers in areas as diverse as understanding influenza virus, using an amino acid to prevent damage to the fetal brain, and examining DNA repair to improve egg health and fertility in older women.

The Federal Health Minister, The Hon. Sussan Ley, announced the fellowships in two separate announcements, in late October, and on Saturday, December 3.

Hudson Director Professor Bryan Williams congratulated the recipients of the Fellowships, and thanked the NHMRC for its support of the Institute’s work.

“These fellowships will support our researchers in this vital early stage of their careers to establish themselves as leaders in their specialist areas of research, contribute to the Institute’s lifesaving work, and help reduce the health burden for people worldwide,” Professor Williams said.

Dr Michelle Tate | Centre for Innate Immunity and Infectious Diseases, NHMRC Career Development Fellowship | “Understanding and modulating hyperinflammation caused by influenza virus”

Influenza A viruses cause acute respiratory illness and kill millions of people annually, and the emergence of a new or pandemic strain is a constant threat to global health.

Dr Michelle Tate will seek to better understand Influenza A viruses, which in their most virulent strains, have a mortality rate of 30 – 40 per cent.

“My research will work to understand the molecular mechanisms and pathways involved in the development of hyperinflammation and severe disease during IAV infection,” Dr Tate said.

“We can then identify proteins or pathways that could be used to develop drugs for IAV, to reduce these high mortality rates.”

Dr Stacey Ellery awarded a National Health and Medical Research Council Fellowship
Dr Stacey Ellery

Dr Stacey Ellery | The Ritchie Centre, NHMRC Peter Doherty Biomedical Early Career Fellowship | “Creatine Supplementation in Pregnancy: Utilising Cells’ ‘Built-In’ Energy Buffering System”

Throughout pregnancy, the placenta transfers oxygen and nutrients from the mother to the baby. Dr Stacey Ellery’s studies are focussed on when a placenta doesn’t function properly, because this can severely affect the baby’s growth and can even lead to loss of the baby late in pregnancy.

Specifically, she’ll look at the role of the creatine kinase circuit in the unhealthy placenta, which works like a “back-up generator” for cells, and may be critical for placental function.

“If we show that the creatine supply within the unhealthy placenta is too low, we could use supplementary creatine in the mother’s diet to help the failing placenta increase nutrient and oxygen delivery to the baby and improve growth,” Dr Ellery said.

Dr Rajini Sreenivasan | Centre for Reproductive Health, NHMRC Peter Doherty Biomedical Early Career Fellowship | “Identification and analysis of novel genes and regulatory regions associated with disorders of sex development”(Administered through Murdoch Children’s Research Institute)

Dr Rajini Sreenivasan’s research seeks to understand the genetic causes underlying disorders of sex development, which are among the most common birth defects.

Children born with a disorder of sex development (DSD) may differ from typical males or females in their chromosomes, hormones or reproductive organs, sometimes resulting in infertility or gonadal cancer.

“My NHMRC Early Career Fellowship will enable me to identify and characterise novel genes and regulatory regions associated with DSDs, thereby providing answers as to how DSDs arise and allowing improved diagnosis and clinical management,” Dr Sreenivasan said.

Dr Amy Winship | Centre for Reproductive Health, NHMRC Peter Doherty Biomedical Early Career Fellowship | “Examining the importance of DNA damage repair for oocyte quality, female fertility and offspring health”

Ageing and cancer treatment are two of the factors known to compromise reproductive success in some women.

Dr Amy Winship’s research will examine how eggs repair DNA damage within, how important DNA repair is to fertility, healthy pregnancy and the transfer of high quality genetic material from mother to child.

“Using this information, we can look to develop diagnostic tools to predict the risk of poor reproductive outcomes in older women, as well as innovative therapeutics to improve fertility in older mothers and to protect fertility during anti-cancer treatments,” Dr Winship said.

Fellowship success

Professor Paul Hertzog has also received an NHMRC Research Fellowship to continue his work on Manipulating the fine-tuning of the innate immune response in disease, while Professor Robert McLachlan received a Sixth Year Fellowship extension for his work on Translational studies in andrology.

Associate Professor Evdokia (Eva) Dimitriadis has received a Research Fellowship for her research into Mechanistic and translational studies in female reproductive health, and Professor Terry Johns for his work on Developing new therapeutic strategies for brain cancer.

NHMRC CEO Professor Anne Kelso said that the grants, announced on Friday, would support an extraordinary breadth of research around Australia.

“They include 60 fellowships for our future research leaders, laboratory studies of the origins of disease and clinical trials of new therapies,” Professor Kelso said.

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