More support for Australia’s world-class medical researchers

The Australian Government is announcing new grant funding of almost $12 million to provide further support for Australia’s world-class medical researchers.

The Turnbull Government is today announcing new grant funding of almost $12 million to provide further support for Australia’s world-class medical researchers.

I am delighted to visit the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute to announce support for research that will offer new hope for people living with rare ataxia diseases.

Ataxia is a rare and debilitating disease which affects a person’s ability to walk, talk and use fine motor skills. Symptoms include a lack of coordination, slurred speech, difficulty eating and swallowing, eye movement abnormalities, trouble walking, gait abnormalities, tremors and heart problems.

Many people with ataxia may eventually be permanently confined to a wheelchair and in later stages be permanently incapacitated.

As part of the Turnbull Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), a new $1.7 million grant will allow researchers at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the University of Melbourne to conduct separate trials into the benefits of rehabilitation.

The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute will trial the effectiveness of rehabilitation for hereditary ataxias – which no medication is proven to benefit – to help sufferers perform the basic tasks needed to maintain their independence.

For those people with difficulty speaking, the University of Melbourne trial will evaluate whether intensive, home-based speech therapy can improve symptoms.

These two trials are the first to receive support through the MRFF’s Lifting Clinical Trials and Registries Capacity (LCTRC) program, which supports researchers trying to find new treatments and cures for rare diseases and cancers.

And in a further boost for ataxia research, Dr Louise Corben from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute will also receive a $431,000 grant.

This funding will support Dr Corben’s study into the use of brain stimulation to improve coordination and function in people with Friedreich ataxia – a disease which often shortens life expectancy due to severe heart diseases.

Dr Corben is one of 21 recipients of 2018 Medical Research Future Fund Next Generation Researchers fellowships which are also being announced today. They will share in $10 million to further their work across a wide range of research subjects.

Research includes tackling poor outcomes for patients with acute myeloid leukaemia, treating methamphetamine addiction, managing staphylococcal infections and improving treatment for depression.

These fellowships fund Australia’s next generation of clinical researchers to ensure the best and brightest minds are supported today to make the breakthroughs of tomorrow.

The grants announced today are a further demonstration of the Turnbull Government’s unprecedented commitment to health and medical research.

Assistant Professor Lianne Schmaal

University of Melbourne


Neuroimaging in mental health: the quest for clinically useful biomarkers

To ultimately improve treatment of mental illness, this research program aims to detect robust and reliable neuroimaging markers that are associated with affective disorders by pooling data from many samples across the world. Moreover, this research aims to develop alternative biological-based classifications of mental illness in young people, and evaluate their clinical value by examining their predictive value for treatment response and disease course.

Associate Professor Christopher Davey

University of Melbourne


Examining new treatments and developing new treatment biomarkers for youth with severe depression

Antidepressant medications and psychotherapy have been the mainstays of depression treatment in young people, but given their modest effectiveness, there is a pressing need for new treatment strategies. During this fellowship I aim to examine better treatments for depression, and develop better predictors about who is likely to benefit from them.