Perkins researchers behind new work to improve treatments for heart and kidney disease have been recognised in Canberra with National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Research Excellence Awards.
The Deputy Director of the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, Professor Peter Thompson won the Marshall and Warren award for his innovative grant application which will be used for a study on patients with stable coronary heart disease.
Professor Thompson and his team will follow up on the promising results of a clinical trial to confirm whether a new use for an old drug can reduce heart attacks in patients. The drug is colchicine, widely used for gout and is known to be low cost and relatively free of side effects. This follow-up study will involve around 5,000 participants, up from around 500 in the earlier trial.
Another leading researcher at the Perkins, Associate Professor Kevin Pfleger, has received an award for having the top-ranked fellowship application in his category.
Associate Professor Pfleger’s research focuses on receptors throughout the body that are the target of many currently used medicines.
Many treatments result in unexplained effects due to a lack of understanding of their mechanism of action at the molecular level.
Associate Professor Pfleger will generate new knowledge about these mechanisms with a view to improving the effectiveness of current and future medicines, and reducing their side effects.
Perkins Director, Professor Peter Leedman said he was delighted that two of the top researchers at the institute had been recognised for their innovative research which had the potential to transform treatments for serious conditions.
The Minister for Health Sussan Ley, who presented 21 awards, said she was proud of Australia’s standing on the international research stage and that these awards recognised some of the leading Australian researchers.
“Australia is a world leader in health and medical research and these researchers will no doubt continue to make a strong contribution to improving the health of all Australians,” Ms Ley said.
“The Coalition Government is committed to enhancing health and medical research in Australia following the landmark Medical Research Future Fund passing the Parliament earlier this year.
“I congratulate the award winners and look forward to continuing to work closely with the research community to come up with the treatments of tomorrow, today.”
NHMRC CEO Professor Anne Kelso described the awardees as being among the highest-performing NHMRC-funded researchers.
“These researchers are representative of the fine research talent that exists in Australia,” Professor Kelso said.
“The award recipients range from established Australian heavy-hitters in health and medical research to promising up-and-coming researchers who are blazing a fast path through their fields.
“I am so delighted with the field of talent we have. All of these researchers have already or no doubt will make a strong contribution to improving the health of the nation.”