NHMRC announces new grant recipients as part of 2020-21 Budget

In the recently announced federal budget, the government recognised the essential role of university research in improving the wellbeing of Australians.

$6 billion will be committed to health and medical research over the next four years, with $3.5 billion allocated to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) for research funding.

Subsequently, the NHMRC also announced new grant recipients as part of the 2020-21 Budget.

Bio21 researcher Eric Reynolds and his team received a Development Grant to assist their work developing an improved method for repairing tooth enamel. Their product, MI Enamel/Dentine RepairTM, is a non-invasive method that uses biomimetic mineralisation to treat early stages of mineral loss in tooth enamel. NHMRC’s Development Grant scheme helps take research to the “proof-of-concept” stage, which is a crucial stage towards achieving commercial outcomes.

Eric’s project will involve demonstrating the feasibility of a prototype dental professional product MI Enamel/Dentine RepairTM.

Eric Reynolds (left), Paul Gooley (right)Pictured: Eric Reynolds (left), Paul Gooley (right)

Furthermore, under the Targeted Calls for Research, Paul Gooley and his team received funding for their project exploring the role of nitrogen metabolism, energy metabolism and mitochondrial function in the pathophysiological mechanisms of paediatric Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), is a complex condition with an unknown cause.

Paul’s extensive research into this condition has led to a hypothesis that CFS results from toxic by-products of energy production in patients’ cells. This problem can be caused in unique ways, a feature which may explain the diversity of the CFS patient population.

Paul’s funding will support the testing of this hypothesis, with a novel experimental design to simultaneously produce a mass of new knowledge for the field of CFS.

Bio21 Institute Director Michael Parker notes the struggle researchers have faced in balancing their research with COVID-19 research.

“As we have all struggled to continue our research and, in some cases ‘pivot’ to COVID-19 research, it is good to see national recognition of the importance of scientific research through NHMRC and the university research block grant system.”

The Australian research sector’s rapid collaborative response to the pandemic was also acknowledged in the federal budget.

“Despite the disruption of professional and personal lives, researchers have stepped up to assist the national response.”

Researchers were acknowledged for “contributing to the development and testing of diagnostics, drugs and vaccines, supporting the public health response and investigating the mental health and other impacts of the pandemic on the community.”