NHMRC funds Bio21 structural biology and drug development research

Dear Bio21 Institute Community,

After waiting with anticipation and some trepidation, the results of the NHMRC Development and Investigator grants have been released today, 28 August 2019. You can download them here.

Under the extremely competitive funding environment, we are pleased to see two of our members receive NHMRC funding. (Please let us know if we have missed somebody).

Congratulations to Professor Leann Tilley, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, who has received a Development grant of $445,920.00 to fund the:
“Development of a novel drug class for the treatment of Plasmodium falciparum malaria”:

“Recent gains made in malarial control are now threatened by the emergence of antimalarial drug resistance, which is causing up to 50% treatment failure. New drugs are needed that have novel mechanisms of action, are fast acting and show activity against all known resistant parasite strains. We have identified a class of compounds that fits these criteria and propose to develop them as drug leads.”

Congratulations to David Ascher, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, who has received an Investigator grant of $1,554,485.00 to pursue his work:

“Using protein structure to combat antimicrobial resistance”:

“The development and spread of antimicrobial resistance poses significant risks to human health. Sequencing offers enormous potential to manage this but understanding how and which mutations lead to resistance is challenging. This program will use the effects of mutations on the structure and function of proteins to pre-emptively identify resistance mutations. This information will be used to improve diagnosis of what drugs a pathogen is resistant to and in the development of resistance-resistant drugs.”

The awarding of grant funding towards these two project areas, aligns with the Institute’s strategic commitment to the building of structural biology and translational capacities. Nevertheless, we must remember that support of fundamental research in the biological, chemical and physical sciences is absolutely essential to drive the search for new medicines.

According to the media release from Minister for Health, Greg Hunt’s office: “The Morrison Government will invest over $440 million in world-leading health and medical research projects to improve the lives of all Australians.

You can find the fact sheet here, with a breakdown of how funding was distributed.

Although it is encouraging to see the Federal Government investing in medical research, I also encourage you to inform yourselves about the opportunities that can arise through from other forms of funding, such as philanthropic foundations and industry collaborations, both National and International.


Michael Parker