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Our Grant Recipients


A/Prof Gail Matthews and Dr David Darley - COVID-19 research grant 1

"ADAPT" COVID-19 Study: a prospective, observational cohort study

We intend to do research regarding our experience of COVID-19 infection at St Vincent’s Hospital. We have observed that different patients have different severities of COVID-19 infection. We are interested to understand the reasons why different COVID affects patients differently. This will involve measuring clinical, immunologic, genetic and viral factors. We intend to improve our understanding of how COVID causes disease and identify new treatment targets that could be evaluated in future studies for COVID vaccines.

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Prof Greg Dore - COVID-19 research grant 1

ADAPT Comm-CO Study: a prospective, observational cohort study evaluating serological responses in community-based patients recovered from COVID-19

A current major area of concern going forward is which antibodies to COVID-19 appear after infection, whether these antibodies offer any level of protection, and how long these antibodies may last for. These concepts are critical to managing our response to the COVID-19 pandemic over the next 12-18 months. Although a number of ‘antibody’ test are currently being marketed, appropriate validation against cohorts of well-characterised people with and without COVID are lacking. We propose to evaluate these concepts within a unique St Vincent’s based cohort.

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Dr Venessa Chin - De Angeli Cancer Research Grant (3 years grant)

Using the power of single cell sequencing to change the management of lung cancer

Lung cancer is common in Australia and the survival rates are poor. Immune therapies which stimulate a person’s immune system to fight lung cancer cells have been effective in improving survival rates, but their cost to the health system is high. Currently we have no robust way of predicting which patients are most likely to benefit from these treatments. Single cell sequencing technology allows us to profile all the cancerous and immune cells in a given biopsy sample. We aim to use this technology to create an “immune cell fingerprint” of an individual, characterising the particular types of immune cells present and whether the immune system is “activated” or “suppressed” in the presence of cancer. Additionally, we will explore whether we can measure a person’s immune cell response to immune therapy in a petri dish, helping us to understand the varying clinical effectiveness seen in patients. This will help us better understand the spectrum of immune cell behaviour in lung cancer and help predict which patients are most likely to benefit from immune therapy treatments. The overall aim is to improve survival for patients and help clinicians use expensive immune therapies in a more economical fashion.

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A/Prof Louise Emmett - Prostate cancer grant (3 years grant)

ENZA-p trial: evaluating whether adding Lu-PSMA to enzalutamide overcomes treatment resistance in men with metastatic prostate cancer

Seed-funding enabled A/Prof Louise Emmett to gain a $4m grant from Movember. The study is designed to test a new treatment that could prolong the lives of men with advanced prostate cancer. It involves a randomized trial, together with ANZUP and Movember, which looks at combination treatment in men with advanced prostate cancer. The research project will investigate whether combining enzalutamide, a hormone therapy drug, with Lutetium PSMA, a radioactive molecule made to kill prostate cancer cells, will extend the lives of men with metastatic prostate cancer. The study will involve a massive amount of PSMA-PET scans, which will allow the team to identify the most likely response to a treatment (called predictive biomarker) and the expected outcome for the patient (prognostic biomarker).

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Jerry Greenfield

Prof Jerry Greenfield - Sister Mary Bernice, Packer Family Foundation Grant

Elucidating the immune and metabolic phenotype of autoantibody negative diabetes in adults

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is classically thought to be an autoimmune disease and is a disorder due to insulin deficiency. A subgroup of T1D patients lack the autoantibodies used to diagnose the disease (approximately 15% of those with T1D have this deficiency).  In this cohort, we do not understand why their insulin producing cells are destroyed. Currently treatment for all affected T1D individuals with or without autoantibodies is universal, with lifelong exongenous insulin therapy (insulin injections). Alternative therapies have never been studied in autoantibody negative patients, as they are excluded from most T1D trials. The study aims to understand the impact of autoantibodies on immune cells and the rate at which they fail to produce insulin. The study will improve the lives of some T1D individuals, offering them the chance of novel therapies and better outcomes. The study is a unique collaborative study, merging metabolism and immunology at St Vincent’s Hospital and the Garvan.

Richard Hillman

A/Prof Richard Hillman - Kavan Research Grant

Trial of Individually Collected Anal Testing (TICAT)

Anal cancer is a highly stigmatised disease, occurring at high rates in certain St Vincent’s populations (HIV positive men who have sex with men).  Early diagnosis is critically important to successful treatment.  In collaboration with the Kirby Institute, St Vincent’s Hospital is at the forefront of developing anal cancer screening programs for vulnerable populations involving collecting anal swabs.  Depending on the results of the swabs, patients are referred to the definitive investigation.  
Self-collected anal swabs potentially allow screening without the need for intimate examinations (self-collected vaginal specimens for HPV testing have already been found to be acceptable and to yield technically satisfactory results in the majority of cases).  The study compares the accuracy of self-collected specimens with those obtained by clinicians.  Improved acceptability is likely to increase screening uptake and lead to earlier identification of cancers.

A/Prof Andrew Jabbour

A/Prof Andrew Jabbour - Annual Research Grant 1

Implementing and Validating a Novel Method of Non-Invasive Detection of Cardiac Rejection for the management of heart transplant recipients using high field strength (3T) MRI imaging.

This project will aim to optimise and evaluate a low-cost non-invasive approach for diagnosing cardiac rejection in patients following their heart transplantation procedure using a high-field strength MRI scanner. Current methods of diagnosis involve multiple (~11) heart biopsy procedures to excise multiple fragments of heart tissue which can be traumatic to the patients, potentially cause harm, and accessible only at hospitals which are specialised and highly resourced to perform this type of procedure. The study will investigate the reliability of high-field strength (3T) MRI as a replacement for invasive surgical procedures in this regard. The intended outcome will be a novel framework for safe, remote, non-invasive patient monitoring to facilitate better patient management and for health systems to benefit through cost-effective use of resources.

Dr David Herrmann

Dr David Herrmann - Annual Research Grant 2

Pinpointing and targeting novel drivers of pancreatic cancer progression, invasion and metastasis

Pancreatic cancer patient survival rates have remained at a standstill for the last four decades due to the rapid spread of the disease and its resistance to conventional treatment approaches.  Using innovative TRAP-seq sequencing technology, cutting-edge imaging of treatment response in live tumours and high-fidelity models of pancreatic cancer, the study will identify and validate novel drug targets to counteract pancreatic cancer progression, invasion and metastasis.

Prof Reginald V N Lord

Prof Reginald V N Lord - Annual Research Grant 3

Evaluating the performance of a three gene hypermethylation PCR assay for the diagnosis of oesophageal adenocarcinoma and high risk Barrett’s oesophagus

Some patients with the reflux-induced condition Barrett’s oesophagus are at a greatly increased risk of developing oesophageal adenocarcinoma, the most common form of oesophageal cancer in Australia.  Unfortunately the current examination method is often unreliable for diagnosing these patients prior to cancer, or for accurately predicting cancer risk.  The study will investigate a highly promising simple molecular test developed at St Vincent’s Centre for Applied Medical Research to improve diagnosis and prediction of cancer risk.

Father Darryl Mackie

Fr Darryl Mackie - Multidisciplinary Research Grant 1

The Impact of Indigenous Spirituality in Healthcare and Healthcare Decision Making

This project is focused on patient care of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) people within the health care system. Developing from a pilot program, the current project will interview ATSI leaders within their community alongside broader identified members (non-religious LGBTQI+) to advise on best practice in cultural integration for indigenous individuals when they interact with the Health Care System. The study will be conducted through encouraging discussion to take place through “yarning circles” with Indigenous people who are considered leaders in their community, embracing diverse religious or spiritual views. 

Lauren Christie

Lauren Christie - Multidisciplinary Research Grant 2

ReCITE (Remote Constraint Induced Therapy of the upper Extremity): An implementation study

Constraint induced movement therapy (CIMT) is a highly effective intervention for arm recovery after stroke. CIMT is recommended in the national stroke guidelines, yet less than 12% of eligible stroke survivors receive CIMT. Telehealth, as an alternative model for CIMT delivery, will provide opportunities to further increase CIMT uptake by clinicians and reach remote stroke survivors. TIDE is a group of occupational therapist, physiotherapists and researchers worldwide who have created a free downloadable resource for CIMT practice, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which will be used by clinicians within this project. The study includes investigating the effectiveness of the TeleCIMT platform in improving mobility in stroke survivors, assessing if the results are consistent with previous research and determining the feasibility of completing a three week TeleCIMT remote support program. The current study if successful, may be broadened to state and national levels to improve stroke therapy and may be applied to other patient populations (eg. traumatic brain injuries) to improve the delivery of evidence-based stroke rehabilitation to regional and remote communities.