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28 Oct 2016

Doherty Institute researchers awarded NHMRC Fellowships

Five Doherty Institute researchers have been awarded over $2.5 million in National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Fellowships in the latest funding round announced by the Federal Government.

Projects funded covered Indigenous health, HIV, the role of unconventional T cells and infectious diseases, showcasing the breadth of research subjects at the Doherty Institute while keeping within its specialty of infection and immunity.

Doherty Institute Director, University of Melbourne Professor Sharon Lewin, congratulated all of the grant recipients in what was an incredibly competitive environment.

“NHMRC grants are highly competitive at all levels, so it is a great credit to Doherty Institute staff to have been so successful in these programs,” Professor Lewin said.

“These grants will support outstanding senior and junior investigators in both fundamental and applied research, as well as clinician scientists in our understanding of the immune system and the epidemiology of infectious diseases, including in Indigenous communities.”

Laboratory Head, University of Melbourne Professor Dale Godfrey was awarded a Senior Principal Research Fellowship totalling $863,910 for his research that will lead the way to understanding some of the most abundant, yet least well understood, cells within the immune system, known as ‘unconventional T cells’.

Director of Doherty Epidemiology, University of Melbourne Professor Jodie McVernon, will use her will use her Principal Research Fellowship ($763,845) to support research into the ways family size, social connections, access to health services and the environment modify infection risk, particularly in settings of poverty.

In one of two Health Professional Research Early Career Fellowships awarded at the Doherty Institute, The University of Melbourne’s Dr Katherine Gibney ($340,891) will study the mobility and social interactions of Indigenous people in remote communities in the Northern Territory to better understand how infectious diseases spread throughout these communities.

Early Career Fellowship awardee ($318,768) from Professor Stephen Kent’s Group, The University of Melbourne’s Dr Jennifer Juno, will investigate how HIV infections alter the function of rare, unconventional immune cell populations in the gastrointestinal tract.

The University of Melbourne’s Dr Deborah Williamson, Deputy Director of the Microbiological Diagnostic Unit Public Health Laboratory, will work on a project understanding, reducing and preventing communicable diseases using applied pathogen genomics with her Health Professional Research Early Career Fellowship ($303,014).