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3rd March 2023

$1.74 million for new medical research grants


Four SA-based healthcare projects have been awarded $1.74 million in funding from The Hospital Research Foundation Group to improve patient outcomes in mental health, childhood obesity, Parkinson’s and MND, and healthy ageing.

The projects also highlight the increasing relevance of gut health and nutrition on a myriad of diseases.

The funding ensures four talented researchers and their teams are retained in South Australia, to continue their high-quality and impactful research programs while building SA’s health and medical research capability for the future.

The Hospital Research Foundation Group used the federal NHMRC investigator scheme to identify the worthy recipients, with a strong focus on patient impact.

We wish to extend a huge thank you to our generous donors, fundraisers, corporate partners and ticket buyers in the Hospital Research Foundation Home Lottery for enabling this important research.

The four successful three-year fellowships include:

Dr Paul Joyce – mental health
University of South Australia

There is widespread evidence to show gut health and mental health disorders such as depression and schizophrenia are interconnected, however this link is often overlooked in clinical treatment.

This project aims to engineer new mental health medications that improve diversity in a patient’s gut microbiome, in order to better regulate the gut-brain pathways linked with psychiatric disorders.

Dr Brittany Johnson – childhood obesity
Flinders University

Childhood obesity is a huge priority for the community, yet preventive programs for families are not easily accessible.

This project will develop a world-first early childhood obesity prevention package that is evidence-backed and developed alongside end users, to be easily adopted into routine practice and streamline supports for families.

Dr Blagojce Jovcevski – Parkinson’s & MND
University of Adelaide

An imbalance of protein function in the gut is increasingly thought to drive the progression of neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson’s disease and motor neuron disease (MND).

This study will investigate the protein mechanisms that fail in the gut-brain axis driving neurodegeneration, in order to better understand how these diseases originate and progress which can then inform new biomarkers for diagnosis and even prevention.

Dr Julian Carosi – healthy ageing

Autophagy is the body’s way of removing damaged waste – or junk – from cells to keep them healthy. In lab-based models, autophagy has been shown to slow biological ageing, but there are still many unknowns about how autophagy works in humans.

We know that nutrient availability strongly influences autophagy. This study will seek to understand how nutrients regulate this process, with the hope of harnessing the power of autophagy or mimicking its beneficial effects to delay or prevent age-related diseases in humans.