Recent grant success for QTHA researchers at James Cook University

Congratulations to James Cook University researchers in recent grant funding rounds.

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Future Fellowships

Adverse reactions to seafood: Molecular and immunological approaches in managing an Australasian epidemic

Indicative funding: $667,878 over 5 years

Over 4 million Australians suffer from allergies with a financial burden in excess of $7 billion. Seafood is an increasingly important food allergy worldwide and is typically life-long, affecting about 5% of children and 2% of adults in Australia. This research will characterise allergenic proteins from crustacean and mollusks, leading to the design of recombinant proteins. Allergenicity of modified food allergens through heating will be studied using state-of-the- art in-vivo and in-vitro systems. This fellowship will considerably advance our knowledge on the influence of structure and chemical modifications on the immunoreactivity of seafood allergen, thus providing platform knowledge for better diagnostics and future therapeutics.

Chief Investigator: Andreas Lopata (Pharmacy & Molecular Sciences)

 

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Projects

Mechanisms of virulence of amphibian chytridiomycosis and factors influencing their evolution

Indicative funding: $230,000 over 3 years

The worst disease to affect biodiversity is chytridiomycosis, an emerging fungal skin infection, that has caused extinction or decline of about 200 amphibians worldwide. We propose to use the latest proteomic, metabolomic and genomic methods to determine the mechanisms of virulence and address the factors that promote differential virulence among fungal isolates. This understanding is important for 1) detection and mapping of virulent strains and 2) improving host resistance, for example by attenuating the pathogen towards avirulence for use as a vaccine.

Chief Investigators: Lee Berger, Lee Skerratt, Richard Speare and Jason Mulvenna (Public Health, Trop Med & Rehab Sciences, Medicine and Health & Molecular Sciences)

 

NHMRC - Postgraduate Scholarship

The Impact of Male Circumcision Practices on Women In Papua New Guinea, Including Women's Risk of HIV Transmission

Indicative funding: $75,830 over 3 years

This grounded theory study will investigate the impact of male circumcision and penile modification practices on women in PNG, including women's risk of HIV. The study aims to describe women's understanding and experience of male circumcision and penile modifications and the processes they use to manage the outcomes of male circumcision. Implications for National HIV Policy in Papua New Guinea will be identified.

Chief Investigator: Michelle Redman- MacLaren with the help of Jane Mills, John McBride and Richard Speare (Medicine & Dentistry, Nursing, Midwifery and Nutrition, Public Health and Trop Med & Rehab Sciences)

 

NHMRC - Project Grant

Telmisartan in the management of abDominal aortic aneurYsm (TEDY)

Indicative funding: $1,105,894 over 5 years

Approximately 5% of men and 1% of women aged over 60 years develop weakening of the main abdominal artery. Currently the management of artery weakening is focused on surgery with no effective medications available. In this trial we will examine the value of a promising drug therapy. If proved effective this medication could reduce the requirement for surgery by controlling artery weakening at an early stage in its development.

Chief Investigators: Jonathan Golledge, Paul Norman, Phillip Walker, Anna Ahimastos, Ronald Dalman, Robert Fitridge, Andrew Tonkin, Christopher Reid, Reinhold Muller, Frank Quigley, Graeme Hankey, Bernard Bourke, Anthony Dear (Medicine & Dentistry, The University of Western Australia, The University of Queensland, Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute, Stanford University, University of Adelaide, Monash University, Public Health and Trop)

 

Interaction between parathyroid hormone, sclerostin and the wingless pathway in abdominal aortic aneurysm

Indicative funding: $698,300 over 5 years

Approximately 5% of men and 1% of women aged over 60 years develop weakening of the main abdominal artery. Currently the management of artery weakening is focused on surgery with no effective medications available. In this study we will assess the role of a novel pathway in artery weakening. Improved understanding of the mechanisms causing artery degeneration is crucial to target the development of better ways to treat this common problem.

Chief Investigators: Jonathan Golledge, Paul Norman, Catherine Rush, Phillip Walker, Craig Jeffrey, Reinhold Muller, Anthony Dear, Timothy Buckenham and Gabby Loots (Medicine & Dentistry, The University of Western Australia, Veterinary & Biomedical Sciences, The University of Queensland, Monash University, Public Health, Trop Med & Rehab Sciences, Christchurch Hospital and Lawrence Liver)

 

Fenofibrate in the management of AbdoMinal aortic anEurysm (FAME)

Indicative funding: $439,735 over 3 years

Approximately 5% of men and 1% of women aged over 60 years develop weakening of the main abdominal artery. Currently the management of artery weakening is focused on surgery with no effective medications available. In this study we will assess whether a drug which limits artery weakening in pre-clinical testing also shows evidence of inhibiting processes important in artery damage in patients. We believe this is a critical next step in the assessment of a promising new treatment.

Chief Investigators: Jonathan Golledge, Phillip Walker, Anna Ahimastos and Reinhold Muller (Medicine & Dentistry, The University of Queensland, Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute, Public Health and Trop Med & Rehab Sciences)

 

Development of a preventive strategy for rheumatic heart disease using an experimental model

Indicative funding: $358,713 over 3 years administered by James Cook University

Based on animal studies, we aim to demonstrate that the worsening of heart damage seen in patients with rheumatic heart disease (RHD) is due to repeated infections with bacteria (group A streptococci: GAS). The heart damage is caused by continual immune damage to the heart and valves and this has adverse effects on heart function. We will also investigate a novel way to prevent the development of RHD.

Chief Investigators: Ketheesan, Catherine Rush, David McMillan, Louis Schoefield and Madeleine Cunningham with the help of Davina Gorton, Lisa Chilton and Jacinta Elston (Veterinary & Biomedical Sciences, Public Health, Trop Med & Rehab Sciences, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center)

 

Cannabis withdrawal among Indigenous inmates in north Queensland

Indicative funding: $279,375 over 2 years

In withdrawal, many Indigenous cannabis users 'stress out' leading to violence and self harm. Among Indigenous prisoners in a north Queensland corrective centre, 69% have been cannabis users and 57% of these suffered 'stressing out'. We will investigate and address cannabis withdrawal symptoms by documenting their onset and severity and by devising culturally acceptable, low-cost resources and support to assist new inmates to manage 'stressing out'.

Chief Investigators: Alan Clough, Jan Copeland, Petra Buttner, Yvonne Cadet-James, Wayne Hall, Kimina Anderson, Edward Heffernan, Greg Kingston, Darryl Joseph, Ernest Hunter, India Bohanna and Bernadette Rogerson (Public Health, Trop Med & Rehab Sciences, The University of New South Wales, Indigenous Australian Studies, The University of Queensland, Queensland Health and Queensland Corrective Services)

 

 

NHMRC - Research Fellowship

Principal Research Fellowship

Indicative funding: $702,795 over 5 years

My expertise is in the area of host-parasite interactions with a particular focus on the molecular basis of the interactions between helminth parasites of humans and host tissues. I use genomic and proteomic approaches to characterise the parasite secretome and the impact of these proteins on host tissues and immune responses. A major focus is in the development of antigen discovery approaches to aid the discovery and development of anthelmintic vaccines.

Chief Investigator: Alex Loukas (Medicine and Health & Molecular Sciences)

 

PNG National Aids Council - Large Research Grant Program

Seventh Day Adventist Responses to HIV in Papua New Guinea

Indicative funding: $295,650 over 3 years

The Seventh Day Adventist Church is one of the most influential churches in Papua New Guinea with an extensive range of health, education and social services throughout the country. This research aims to document and analyse SDA policy and theology on HIV in PNG. It will then describe how these policies and theology are interpreted and influence responses to HIV by church leaders, church employees and church members.

Chief Investigator: David MacLaren with the help of Matupit Darius, Tracie Mafile'o, Graeme Humble, Lalen Simeon, Rachael Tommbe, Michael Wood, Ton Otto and Michelle Redman-MacLaren (Public Health, Trop Med & Rehab Sciences, Pacific Adventist University and Arts & Social Sciences)

 

Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation - Research Grant

Immuno-Histological Correlates of Protection from HIV Transmission by Male Circumcision and Other Form of Penile Cuttings

Indicative funding: $2,000

Circumcision is proven to be protective against heterosexual HIV transmission by 60%. Various penile cutting practices including 'dorsal slit', are practised in PNG. Hence the question, are dorsal slits as effective as full circumcision against HIV transmission? The aims of this study are to measure the keratin thickness of inner and outer foreskins and to measure the susceptibility of inner foreskin compared to the outer foreskin for HIV virus. The outcome will provide strong evidence for the innovative strategy of male circumcision as a preventive measure in HIV transmission in PNG.

Chief Investigator: Mangalasiri Jayathunge Parana Hewage with the help of John McBride, David MacLaren, Alan Nimmo and S Turville (Medicine & Dentistry and Discipline of Dentistry)

 

Investigation on the Etiology of Undiagnosed Fever: a prospective study in Far North Queensland

Indicative funding: $2,000

Undiagnosed fever is defined as a condition of undifferentiated febrile illness without defined causes after initial investigation and further testing as judged by the attending doctor to determine the cause of fever. This research aims to investigate the aetiology of undiagnosed fevers using a new technology, deep sequencing. The result of this study will provide valuable information for determining regional pathogens as well as identification of novel pathogens in Far North Queensland. This information is important for clinicians and other health workers involving in the management of acute fever. The result of the project will be published in peer-reviewed journal and conference.

Chief Investigator: Tri Susilawati with the help of John McBride, Alex Loukas and Jason Mulvenna (Medicine & Dentistry, Medicine and Health & Molecular Sciences)

 

Role of Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cells and Type 1 Interferons in Septicaemic Meliodosis

Indicative funding: $2,000

This study aims to provide insight into the role that human pDC and type 1 1FNs play n the earl phases of B. pseudomallei infection and the development of septicaemic melioidosis. Specifically, the study will investigate a) does B. pseudomallei stimulate human pDCs to produce type 1 1FNs and b) does the level of type 1 1FNs produced by human pDC correlate with development of septicaemic melioidosis. The outcomes of this study will contribute to unraveling the cell signalling pathways that are driving uncontrolled inflammatory responses in septicaemic melioidosis. The potential ability to target and control these pathways would enable clinicians to better manage the outcome of patients with septicaemic melioidosis.

Chief Investigator: Natasha Williams with the help of Jodie Morris, Catherine Rush and Ketheesan Ketheesan (Veterinary & Biomedical Sciences)

 

A pilot study of methodologies to quantify cannabis use in Indigenous peoples in urban and remote communities, Far North Queensland

Indicative funding: $2,000

This study will pilot methods to measure the quantity and frequency. The project is an important one because accurately quantifying cannabis use creates a knowledge base on the related harms of cannabis use. Knowledge and understanding are required to better address these harms and enable a reduction in the use of cannabis, which in turn should reduce the burden of mental illness in the indigenous cohort of far north Queensland and ultimately the burden on the hospital system. Methodologies currently utilised for measuring frequency, quantity and potency of cannabis are limited. The available published methods usually only include singular measures of use and fail to accurately quantify use and dose. An accurate measurement methodology is urgently needed for ongoing monitoring. This will assist government agencies to reliably and equitably inform treatment interventions and related policy development. This study will comprehensively and rigorously test methods to more accurately quantify cannabis use. The outputs of this study include publication in peer reviewed journals to provide support for a broader study to quantify cannabis use rates amongst Indigenous populations in far North Queensland. A more reliable measure of exposure to cannabis use will assist to examine the association between cannabis use and mental health problems which ultimately can lead to long periods of hospitalization.

Chief Investigator: Bernadette Rogerson with the help of Alan Clough (Public Health and Trop Med & Rehab Sciences)

 

The Impact of Male Circumcision Practices on Women in Papua New Guinea, Including Women's Risk of HIV Transmission

Indicative funding: $1,500

This grounded theory study will investigate the impact of male circumcision and penile modification practices on women in PNG, including women's risk of HIV. The study aims to describe women's understanding and experience of male circumcision and penile modifications and the processes they use to manage the outcomes of male circumcision. Implications for national HIV policy in Papua New Guinea will be identified. This application refers to data collection activities planned for 2012.

Chief Investigator: Michelle Redman- MacLaren with the help of Jane Mills, John McBride and Richard Speare (Medicine & Dentistry, Nursing, Midwifery and Nutrition, Public Health and Trop Med & Rehab Sciences)

 

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