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Our Grant Recipients


A/Prof Gail Matthews and Dr David Darley (St Vincent's Hospital Sydney)

COVID-19 research grant 1

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 (St Vincent's Hospital Sydney)

COVID-19 research grant 2

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 (Garvan Institute)

De Angeli Cancer Research Grant (3 years grant)

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 (St Vincent's Hospital Sydney)

Prostate cancer grant (3 years grant)

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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Simon Ghaly

Dr Simon Ghaly (St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney)

SVPHS Ladies’ Committee Sr Mary Bernice Research Grant

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a gastrointestinal disease associated with an in balance of gut bacteria. Faecal Microbial Transplantation (FMT) aims to restore this balance and there is increasing evidence that it is effective in treating UC. Given the chronic nature of UC, a non-invasive treatment is essential to allow for maintenance therapy. Orally administered FMT is the next stage in the development of this treatment. The study aims to investigate the use of encapsulated FMT in the management of UC.

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Jerry Greenfield

Prof Jerry Greenfield (Garvan Institute)

Tancred Research Grant

People with type 1 diabetes experience premature death from heart disease for reasons that are not completely understood. Insulin resistance may be a treatable missing link. This study will determine if harmful patterns of insulin resistance in the liver and muscle explain differences in heart disease risk in type 1 diabetes, and if metformin can reduce insulin resistance with the potential to prevent early death.

Elysse Filipe

Dr Elysse Filipe (Garvan Institute)

K&A Collins Cancer Research Grant

Breast cancer is the second largest cause of cancer related death in Australian women. Triple negative breast cancer in particular remains the most difficult subtype to treat, due to the lack of targeted therapies. Patients rely entirely on whole-body delivery of chemotherapy agents, which is frequently ineffective. This project will evaluate how coupling nanoparticles (tiny, biocompatible capsules) to the standard-of-care breast cancer chemotherapy can improve the targeted delivery specifically to tumour tissue, enhancing retention in tumours and therefore effectiveness.


Dr Max Nobis (Garvan Institute)

Thelma Greig Cancer Research Grant

CDK4/6 inhibitors are the emerging standard of care in advanced breast cancer and these inhibitors will extend and improve life for patients. Resistance to CDK4/6 inhibitors, however, has started to emerge with cancers recurring after approx. 20 months and there is no knowledge or strategy on how to treat these patients. Using cutting-edge imaging technology and 3D patient-derived models that mimic the disease, the researchers can map areas of poor drug response or resistance and counteract factors driving drug resistance.

Prof Michael Rogers (Garvan Institute)

Kavan Research Grant

This project is focused on a potentially fatal genetic disease that appears in infancy and causes bowel inflammation. The study aims to discover what makes the gut leaky, whether the bacteria in the intestine are different to healthy intestines, and whether a lipid supplement can restore the bowel back to normal.

Tri Giang Phan

A/Prof Tri Giang Phan (Garvan Institute)

Annual Research Grant 1

Primary immunodeficiency diseases are rare illnesses that are difficult to diagnose and treat. Whole genome sequencing has revolutionised the diagnosis and precision treatment of many patients but many will also remain undiagnosed. This project will use novel bioformatic tools to mine the patients genomic data to discover new disease-causing mutations. Understanding how these mutations cause disease will provide opportunities to discover new ways to treat immune diseases and cancer.

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Dr Matthew Perry (Victor Chang Cardiac Research Unit)

Annual Research Grant 2

Atrial fibrillation, a disorder in which the upper chambers of the heart beat irregularly, affects approx. 4% of adults and increases the risk of stroke and heart failure. Many factors, including genetics and obesity, contribute to the development of atrial fibrillation but why some people develop this disorder whilst others do not despite having similar risk factors is unknown. The study will use cardiac muscle and fat cells derived from patients to determine how obesity interacts with genetics to increase susceptibility to the disorder.

Ann McCormack

A/Prof Ann McCormack (Garvan Institute)

Annual Research Grant 3

Aggressive pituitary tumours are associate with high morbidity and mortality and existing treatment options are limited. There is therefore a need to identify novel treatment options. Immunotherapy has transformed the treatment of numerous cancers, however the role of immunotherapy in aggressive pituitary tumours is largely unknown. This study aims to investigate the role of immunotherapy for the treatment of aggressive pituitary tumours.

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Dr Charles Cox (Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute)

Annual Research Grant 4

Both athletes and patients with diseases such as high blood pressure have enlarged hearts due to their increased workload. Increased heart size is a poor prognostic marker. Despite the athlete's heart also increasing in size there are limited associated side effects. A better understanding of these difference might lead to novel therapeutic approaches for reversing the pathological consequences of heart growth and prevent the corresponding unfavourable patient outcomes.

Jackie Center

Prof Jacqueline Center (Garvan Institute)

Annual Research Grant 5

Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are common chronic inflammatory diseases of the bowels that typically affect young people. These conditions are associated with higher rates of osteoporosis and fractures. This project will follow a large group of patients with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis with detailed assessment of bone health, blood and faecal markers to develop a tool to help physicians predict those at higher risk of osteoporosis and therefore require screening.

Rebecca Black

Mrs Rebecca Black (St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney)

Multidisciplinary Patient Focused Research Grant 1

This is a collaborative project between intensive care, lung and heart transplant physicians, ear nose and throat surgeons and speech pathology. The study aims to prospectively identify the incidence and severity of oropharyngeal dysphagia (OPD), defined as swallowing impairment and laryngeal dysfunction (impairment of the function of the vocal cords which enable us to talk and cough) before and after lung and/or heart transplantation. The pre/post operative design of this study will allow early identification of patients who are likely to be at higher risk of OPD and laryngeal dysfunction post operatively and investigate the consequences of these complications on patient outcomes.

Prof Sandy Middleton and Dr Oyebola Fasugba

Joyce Baye, Rose Gordon and Prof Sandy Middleton (St Joseph’s Hospital)

Multidisciplinary Patient Focused Research Grant 2

This study aims to determine the prevalence of hospital acquired urinary tract infections (HAUTI) including catheter associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI) and identify the barriers and enablers to implementing evidence-based HAUTI prevention practices including strategies to optimise their sustainability. Their prevention is a priority of the Australian Safety and Quality Goals for Healthcare. Until evidence-practice gaps are addressed, Australians will continue to suffer health consequences of poor HAUTI prevention. The study findings will inform clinical practice leading to benefits for patient safety and healthcare budgets.

Photo: Prof Sandy Middleton and Dr Oyebola Fasugba

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Sara Hungerford

Dr Sara Hungerford (UNSW/Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute)

Travelling Fellowship

Better understand the impact of structural heart disease interventions on volume and pressure loaded left ventricular states using a variety of existing and novel imaging techniques.