Over $4 million has been invested into MS researchers by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in their new funding scheme. MS Research Australia congratulates MS researchers Professor Trevor Kilpatrick (VIC), Dr Yuan Zhou (TAS) and Professor Karlheinz Peter (VIC), who have received Investigator Grants totalling $4.3 million in the recently announced NHMRC funding for 2020. The NHMRC recently changed their funding landscape to support innovative research, support a broad range of health and medical research, and promote collaborations. The Investigator Grant combines salary and research support into one grant, which is now provided over a five year period. All three researchers have been previous recipients of MS Research Australia funding and it is fantastic to see that they are receiving support from the government for their ongoing research into MS.
Professor Trevor Kilpatrick from the University of Melbourne was awarded a three year MS Research Australia project grant which supports his research until 2020. He has now received a $1,237,808 Investigator Grant from the NHMRC to look the cause and drivers of MS, with a specific focus on demyelination. It is known that in relapsing remitting MS, myelin can be repaired, but in progressive forms of MS, repair is not complete leading to irreversible disability. Currently, there are no treatment options that are capable of repairing myelin damage for people with progressive MS and therefore there is a need to find ways to combat this. Professor Kilpatrick will look at two molecules called Tyro3 and Mertk and their role in myelin repair. He will also develop molecules that will stimulate Mertk that can be used in the clinic to help with myelin repair.
Dr Yuan Zhou from the University of Tasmania was awarded a three year MS Research Australia project grant which supports his research until 2020. He was also awarded an Ian Ballard Travel Award from MS Research Australia this year to work with international collaborators. He has received a $562,012 Investigator Grant from the NHMRC to look at the genetic drivers of MS progression, the role of viral infections in MS onset and progression, and the genetic differences in women and men with MS. There are major knowledge gaps in these areas of MS and Dr Zhou’s findings may help us to understand the way genes may be involved in driving the development and progression of MS.
Professor Karlheinz Peter from the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne was previously awarded a one year MS Research Australia project grant. He has received a $2,501,595 Investigator Grant from the NHMRC to help develop new early diagnostic tools and treatments for people with MS. This will hopefully allow for early intervention to prevent the onset of MS or slow down its progression.
It is also extremely encouraging to see in this NHMRC funding round the number of projects focusing on neurodegenerative conditions. Among them is Professor Gilles Guillemin, who received an Investigator Grant to look into biomarkers (things that can be measured to indicate a biological process) and treatments for neurodegenerative conditions.
We are very excited by the potential of all of these grants to help improve our understanding of MS and ultimately provide highly targeted and effective approaches to stop and reverse the effects of MS. We look forward to further announcements of funding outcomes from the NHMRC later this year.