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Six University of Newcastle research projects to share $10m in grants


Six projects led by Hunter researchers will share a combined total of more than $10 million thanks to the latest round of competitive National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding.

The projects, facilitated by the University of Newcastle, include education programs, chronic disease prevention projects, and works to improve Aboriginal children’s health and address substance abuse.

Associate Professor Luke Wolfenden is set to receive more than $2.7 million over five years to identify effective chronic disease implementations promoting health behaviours such as physical activity, healthy diet and smoking cessation.

Professor Frances Kay-Lambkin will welcome just over $2 million to provide new and better understanding of how, when, and what to use when treating mental disorders.

More than $1 million will go to Associate Professor Kelvin Kong to explore a telehealth ear, nose and throat (ENT) model, based in metropolitan, rural and regional Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

This work will enable the improvement in Aboriginal children’s access to specialist ENT care and a reduction in the waiting time for treatment during the vital years of early childhood ear and hearing health. 

Dr Nicole Nathan, Dr Rachel Sutherland and Dr Vanessa Murphy will also receive more than $1.5 million each from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

Dr Nathan will use the funds to investigate key impediments to sustainable chronic disease prevention programs in the community and identify effective strategies for sustaining diet, physical activity and obesity prevention initiatives in schools.

Dr Sutherland will identify effective school-based chronic disease prevention interventions suitable for scale-up to inform government action and prevent the onset of chronic disease at a young age.

Dr Murphy will use the funds to further her contribution to asthma care and work towards personalised management of asthma during pregnancy.

The University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Janet Nelson, said the significant outcome was fantastic recognition of the vital research happening across our region, particularly during the COVID-19 crisis.

“As we navigate a very challenging funding environment, it is incredibly encouraging to see our researchers continue to be recognised for their important work,” she said.

“While globally, there is a united focus on combatting COVID-19, it is essential that we continue to strive and invest in understanding and developing novel treatments for the vast array of health concerns that continue to affect our populations.”

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