10 research funding wins in haematology: NHMRC grants announced

Haematology clinicians and researchers have been awarded more than $36 million for a wide range of research projects in the 2021 NHMRC Grant Application Round.

Funded projects from the bench to the bedside across malignant and nonmalignant haematology include:

  • Professor Andrew Wei (Monash University) for the INTERCEPT (Investigating Novel Therapy to target Early Relapse and Clonal Evolution as Pre-emptive Therapy in AML) trial. The multi-arm, precision-based platform trial aims to increase and extend the duration of patient response and survival using novel combination options.
  • Professor Erica Wood (Monash University) will lead the RATIONALISE trial aimed at preventing infections in patients with blood cancer through evidence-based use of immunoglobulin or alternatives.
  • Professor Tim Hughes (University of Adelaide) will focus on improving outcomes by determining the key genetic events driving drug resistance and disease progression in CML. The project will further develop the new, highly targeted drug asciminib which promises to revolutionise CML therapy, and remove the current barriers to treatment free remission.
  • Professor Peter Croucher (University of NSW) will investigate the dormant cancer cell life cycle – defining the cell and molecular pathways in dormant cells and surrounding bone that control dormancy and relapse. The vision is to devise new treatments to eradicate these rare dormant cells, so as to cure cancers that spread to bone.
  • Associate Professor Jake Shortt (Monash University) aims to develop new treatments for blood cancers like multiple myeloma and B-cell lymphoma that share biological features associated with resistance to conventional treatments. By genetically editing the cancer-causing genes in MM and B-cell lymphoma, he has identified new (non-chemotherapy) drug targets that can overcome treatment resistance.
  • Dr Shalin Naik (WEHI) will use clonal multi-omics to better understand haematopoiesis and inform new ways to boost immunity or treat immune and inflammatory diseases.
  • Professor Andreas Strasser (WEHI) is aiming to improve understanding of the control of cell death and the functions of the tumour suppressor p53 to develop improved therapies for cancer
  • Associate Professor Edwin Hawkins (WEHI) and his team have developed technology to watch blood cell behaviour in living tissue. Using this approach, they aim to develop new ways of driving healthy blood cell production and eliminating cells that cause autoimmune disease and blood cancers.
  • Professor Dale Godfrey (University of Melbourne) will study the fundamental biology and therapeutic potential of unconventional T cells. These cells detect abnormalities in molecules such as lipids, signatures of microbial infection, and drug metabolites, and they play a unique role in infection, cancer, allergy, autoimmunity, and tissue maintenance.
  • Associate Professor Sant-Rayn Pasricha (WEHI) aims to develop and test innovative new solutions to reduce anaemia in children and pregnant mothers, and use samples from these studies to drive new discoveries that will inform development of next generation improved treatments.

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