Major NHMRC grants to advance understanding of cardiometabolic disease

Baker Institute

Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute researchers have shared in $375M of Investigator Grants awarded to 225 emerging and established research leaders across the country to tackle our greatest health challenges.

The Institute secured four grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) totalling nearly $7 million in what is a very tightly contested space.

This will enable our researchers to identify opportunities to reverse the diabetes epidemic; to better understand the genetic drivers of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease; and to better manage people with Atrial Fibrillation using lifestyle and the latest cardiac techniques.

Investigator grants provide high-performing researchers at all career stages with funding to pursue important new research directions and collaborations, they foster innovative and creative research, and create opportunities for researchers to establish their own research programs.

The following Baker Institute researchers received investigator grants:

  • Diabetes epidemiologist and Head of Diabetes and Population Health, Professor Dianna Magliano OAM received $2.3 million to identify opportunities to reverse the diabetes epidemic through surveillance of diabetes, its complications and mortality. This will allow Prof Magliano to build on her projects to track diabetes complications in Australia, and incidence, mortality and complications internationally. She will identify which interventions are most effective, and which populations require increased clinical and public health focus. A new study called PREDICTION will also provide greater understanding of the aggressive nature of young-onset T2DM and identify intervention points to halt the progression of complications.

  • Clinician-researcher and Head of Clinical Electrophysiology, Professor Peter Kistler, in collaboration with Alfred Health and the University of Melbourne, received $1.9 million to restore and maintain sinus rhythm and symptom reduction in people with Atrial Fibrillation (AF) through randomised control trials using lifestyle and the latest cardiac techniques. AF is the most common heart rhythm disorder and is providing a new epidemic of cardiovascular disease. It is associated with stroke, death and heart failure. Pharmacological treatment had limited efficacy in restoring sinus rhythm and maybe associated with significant toxicity so Prof Kistler is looking for new strategies to better manage AF.

  • Head of Molecular Metabolism and Ageing, Associate Professor Brian Drew received $1.8 million to leverage polygenic risk and genetics for pre-clinical discovery in cardiometabolic disease. Cardiometabolic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease are driven by a combination of mostly undefined genetic predisposition, and lifestyle exposures. Recent advances in our capacity to quantify and leverage polygenic risk as a research tool provides exciting opportunities for discovery in the cardiometabolic space. A/Prof Drew will advance novel targets identified in his lab towards use in the clinic and continue building discovery capacity to better understand the genetic drivers of cardiometabolic disease.

  • Dr Man Kit Sam Lee, who works in a lab dedicated to exploring the relationships between inflammation and chronic disease, received $655,000 to support research that aims to maintain platelet levels within the normal range, which is important in preventing and stopping bleeding in damaged blood vessels. He aims to identify novel, safe and effective mechanisms to modify platelet production in patients with clinical conditions where they suffer from low or high platelets, both of which can cause serious complications.

Institute Director, Professor Tom Marwick said these projects were critical to advancing our understanding of cardiometabolic diseases, which account for more death and disability than other condition in the developed world, and to enhancing prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

“We are grateful to the NHMRC for this funding to undertake this vital work that impacts so many in our community,” Professor Marwick said.

/Baker Institute Public Release. View in full here.