Health body awards $5m to UQ researchers

2 Sep 2014


The National Health and Medical Research Council has awarded six new Research Fellowships at The University of Queensland, and extended funding on another four.

Total funding under the announcement is $5.15 million, with the new Fellowships funded over five years.

The Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Peter Høj, said the funding the researchers would receive from the Australian people via the NHMRC would advance endeavours to prevent or treat conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, chronic pain, chronic kidney disease and a range of mental health disorders.

“UQ is very proud of these distinguished researchers who all have clear visions for translating their brilliance in the lab into benefits for people in Australia and worldwide,” Professor Høj said.

“The funding will ensure some of our top-tier health researchers remain at the forefront with technologies including genomics, which could herald quantum improvements in health care in the not-too-distant future.”

Professor Høj noted it was great to see an equal balance of women and men in UQ’s contingent.

The Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Anton Middelberg, said the world was witnessing an explosion of knowledge in health and bio-medicine.

“These are exciting times in medical discovery, and UQ’s researchers are knowledge leaders in a number of fields,” Professor Middelberg said.

“We are looking now at burgeoning new worlds in DNA technologies, and in the treatment of prevalent human afflictions. Our researchers are pushing into these important areas knowing that they will make a very big difference to many people’s lives in coming years and decades.”

The largest and most prestigious honour went to the Queensland Brain Institute’s Professor Peter Visscher, who was awarded a Senior Principal Research Fellowship valued at $886,915 to assist him in leading projects that will help harness DNA technologies and statistical genomics.

Four researchers received Principal Research Fellowships:

  • Professor Naomi Wray of the QBI receives $739,980 for her work in the application of genomics methods in psychiatry. The work aims to give a better understanding of mental illness, ultimately leading to prevention strategies, improved diagnosis and more targeted treatments.
  • Professor Pankaj Sah of the QBI receives $739,980 for his research, which aims to develop an integrated biological map of anxiety-related disorders including post-traumatic stress syndrome and generalised anxiety, and to develop targeted therapeutics for these conditions.
  • Professor Paul Alewood of the Institute for Molecular Bioscience receives $739,980 for his work in developing persistent pain treatments. The research works with venoms from cone snails and spiders, focusing on analgesic peptide inhibitors in voltage-gated calcium and sodium channels.  

In the School of Biomedical SciencesAssociate Professor Karen Moritz received $675,810 for a Senior Research Fellowship B. Her research will analyse the evidence of links between poor pre-natal environments and the development of hypertension and kidney disease in adults.

Research Fellowship extensions for a sixth-year of funding were awarded to:

Contact: Fiona Cameron, UQ Communications, ph +61 7 3346 7086,, Dr Richard Kim, UQ Research & Innovation Office, ph +61 7 3346 0737