Dr Benjamin Buckley. Photo by Mark Newsham.

IHMRI Young Investigator Awards support early career researchers

The Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI) is proud to announce the recipients of our Young Investigator Awards (Awards) for 2018.

Part of IHMRI’s annual Grant Program, the Awards provide small scale funding (up to $10K) to early career researchers to help them develop their skills, expertise and research track records.

“On behalf of IHMRI, I would like to congratulate the recipients of the 2018 Young Investigator Grants. “The quality of their projects shows the depth of talent in health and medical research in the Illawarra,” stated IHMRI Research Development Manager, Richard Brown. 

Dr Natalie Matosin

Dr Natalie Matosin

Dr Natalie Matosin. Photo by Paul Jones.

Project: The Trauma and Refugee Intervention Project

Dr Natalie Matosin’s Trauma and Refugee Intervention Project (TRIP) is identifying ways to potentially improve health outcomes for traumatised populations like refugees.

“The World Health Organisation (WHO) is projecting that stress-induced mental illnesses will account for over one third of  disease globally by 2030, I’m interested in researching how stress manifests as mental illness” said Dr Matosin.

Dr Matosin wants to find volunteers from the Croatian community in the Illawarra to be a part of the project.

“My research goals are to study stressed and traumatised populations to understand the genetic, epigenetic and transcriptomic factors that manifest mental illness,” she added.

She hopes the outcomes of this research will assist in applications for larger funding grants like the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Dr Monique Francois

Project: Combining exercise and hydrotherapy to harness the glycaemic and vascular benefits of exercise for obese and type 2 diabetes individuals

Dr Monique Francois

Dr Monique Francois

The focus of Dr Monique Francois’ clinical translational research is in the treatment and prevention of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases using lifestyle interventions. She is particularly interested in the timing and intensity of exercise to best improve blood sugar levels.

“This award will enable me to commence a novel and innovative pilot project providing several opportunities to establish and enhance my career and further establish collaborations both in the Illawarra and across Australia,” said Dr Francois.

“I will also be able to purchase consumables to run a two-fold pilot study that will produce high-quality publications and pilot data for competitive grants to Diabetes Australia, The Heart Foundation and ultimately NHMRC,” she added.

Dr Benjamin Buckley

Project: Novel leads for neuropathic pain: establishing a high-through-put screen for ASIC3 inhibitors

Dr Benjamin Buckley

Dr Benjamin Buckley. Photo by Mark Newsham.

Associate Research Fellow Dr Ben Buckley is investigating the impact of using compounds from the diuretic amiloride to treat neuropathic pain.

Dr Buckley says the money will assist his work in the laboratories of Professor Marie Ranson and Associate Professor Michael Kelso.

“The award will support my career by enabling me to conduct innovative, translationally-relevant research towards developing new drug treatments for neuropathic pain experienced after chemotherapy,” said Dr Buckley.

“I also look forward to utilising the newly acquired Syncropatch robot in IHMRI’s eltectrophysiology laboratory,” he added.

Dr Martin Engel

Dr Martin Engel. Photo by Paul Grabowski.

Project: Patient-driven research: Investigating possible relationships between the clinical presentation and brain organoid development from the same schizophrenia patients

Dr Martin Engel’s project is a method of growing brain tissue using stem cells from adult skin samples.

The aim of this project is to grow ‘mini’ brains to better understand schizophrenia and potential treatments.

“My long-term goal is to personalise drug testing against brain disorders. My work focuses on improving treatments for individuals with schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.

“The IHMRI award will allow me to address a key diagnostic for this capacity by providing access to a schizophrenia stem cell resource which does not exist in Australia,” said Dr Engel.

Media contact

Louise Negline, Communications Coordinator

t: 4221 4702

m: 0417 044 867

e: louisenegline@ihmri.org.au

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