Millions Awarded to Australian University to Develop New COPD, Asthma Treatments

Patrícia Silva, PhD avatar

by Patrícia Silva, PhD |

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University of Newcastle funding

The University of Newcastle (UON) in Australia was awarded a total of $10.8 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to support 14 projects and one Career Development Fellowship.

Of the total, $3.4 million will be dedicated to help develop new treatments for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

“Unfortunately, there is still no cure for asthma and COPD, which are a major cause of morbidity and poor quality of life in Australia and across the globe,” Laureate Prof. Paul Foster, chief investigator on three projects, said in a press release.

“We’re working toward a single treatment for asthma and COPD by investigating common components of inflammation, which is the abnormal accumulation of white blood cells in the lung that drives these diseases and other lung conditions,” Foster said.

“This funding outcome is a huge boost for our Priority Research Centre that focuses on lung health and will enable us to further probe the mechanisms underpinning chronic airway inflammation,” he said, adding that the team hopes to develop new treatment approaches for chronic airway conditions.

Kevin Hall, a professor at the University of Newcastle and deputy vice chancellor of Research and Innovation, noted that the funding success was indicative of the world-class health research being led by UON researchers.

“This strong funding outcome reflects the University of Newcastle’s research leadership and impressive innovation capabilities across the health disciplines,” Hall said. “Importantly, this research will deliver very tangible impact for our region and communities worldwide.”

Foster and Phil Hansbro, also a professor at UON, are both based at the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI), where key investigations will be conducted to help pioneer new treatments for people with chronic airway inflammation.

Other UOB recipients of the NHMRC funding are Mariko Cary, PhD, who was awarded $954,000 to investigate improving outcomes for people suffering from depression in community settings, and Flora Tzelepis, PhD, who received $674,000 to test electronic support for students experiencing multiple health risk behaviors.

These results follow the recent announcement of $5.6 million for a senior research fellowship, a practitioner fellowship, and five early career fellowships, as well as $2.2 million for an Indigenous Counseling and Nicotine (ICAN) QUIT in Pregnancy program.