Three projects awarded Ideas Grants.

Six Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI) researchers and their collaborators are celebrating after attracting $2,498,190.00 for projects in the inaugural National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Ideas Grant scheme.

Ideas Grant funding is awarded to investigators at all career stages, for creative ideas in Health and Medical research.

The Federal Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, announced the funding on Saturday (7 December).

The successful UOW projects will look at:

  • the potential health risks of mobile phone radiofrequency electromagnetic energy on brain development and behaviour in children and adolescents;
  • understanding why some skin cancer tumours spread to lymph nodes, becoming life threatening, while others don’t, in order to predict which patients are most at risk;
  • determining the 3D molecular structures of herpes virus proteins in order to develop new anti-viral drugs;

UOW Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) Professor Jennifer Martin AC welcomed the new funding scheme and congratulated the successful researchers.

“I am delighted by the 2020 NHMRC Ideas announcement. This new NHMRC funding scheme supports innovative and creative research, something the University of Wollongong is renowned for.

“I congratulate the awardees, and wish them well in achieving their health and medical research goals through this new opportunity.”

IHMRI’s Professor Chao Deng and Professor Rodney Croft from UOW’s School of Medicine have been awarded $1,264,200.00 over five years for their research into the impact of mobile phone use on brain development and behaviours.

Professor Rodney Croft explains the project:

“Children are increasingly exposed to mobile communications and other wireless technologies which comes with its benefits but also an increase in concern of potential health impacts.

This research will look at consequences of exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic energy (RF-EME) in brain development and behaviour in children and adolescents.

This research will provide important knowledge for the Australian Government to consider best practice and public health policies.”

IHMRI’s Professor Marie Ranson and Doctor Bruce Ashford have been funded $597,622.50 over three years along with project partners, Associate Professor Ruta Gupta from Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Associate Professor N Gopalakrishna Iyer from the National Cancer Centre in Singapore.

Professor Marie Ranson says the funding will support their project investigating more targeted treatments for one of Australia’s most common cancers and major healthcare burdens:

“Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the skin is so common amongst Australians but we still don’t know why some tumours spread to nearby lymph nodes, and why others do not,” Professor Ranson said.

“Our aim is to decipher the molecular changes that distinguish those SCCs that are likely to spread so that clinicians can identify and treat these patients early.”

IHMRI’s Doctor Gokhan Tolun and Professor Antoine van Oijen from UOW’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Bioscience have attracted $636,368.00 over three years for their project investigating the molecular mechanistic details of viral DNA recombination towards developing novel anti-viral drugs.

Doctor Tolun explains:

“Oncogenic viruses cause cancer and other disease by creating DNA sequences that spread more rapidly during their infection cycle.”

“As yet there are no drugs that target this process, our project aims to better understand what triggers the gene mutation so we can develop new anti-viral drugs for cancer prevention.”

Distinguished Professor David J. Adams, IHMRI’s CEO and Executive Director congratulated the researchers.

“IHMRI is once again celebrating the hard work and dedication of some of its leading researchers,” Professor Adams said.

“My congratulations to the researchers and their collaborators on this national recognition of innovative success.”

Media contact

Louise Negline, Communications Coordinator

t: 4221 4702

m: 0417 044 867


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