Australian scientists receive grants for research on cancer, malaria and rheumatoid arthritis

Published on December 19, 2012 at 12:27 PM · No Comments

Scientists at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Australia, have received more than $16 million in Australian Government funding to pursue research into cancer, malaria, rheumatoid arthritis and the immune system, it was announced today.

The funding was announced by federal health minister Tanya Plibersek and will be distributed through the National Health and Medical Research Council. Walter and Eliza Hall Institute scientists were awarded two program grants, worth more than $15 million over five years, two development grants, worth more than $1.3 million; and three PhD scholarships.

The program grants will:

  • support researchers from the Bioinformatics division as they seek to develop new methods for analysing the massive, complex data sets that are generated by biomedical researchers; and
  • help researchers from the Immunology and Molecular Immunology divisions understand how white blood cells make the decisions that influence the strength, type, and longevity of the immunity created when the body encounters a foreign invader.

Professor Phil Hodgkin, who is leading the immunology research program, said it would focus on the adaptive immune response and the role of B cells and T cells within that response.

"The adaptive immune system is proving one of the most compelling and fascinating in the body," Professor Hodgkin said. "This system underlies our primary defense against acute infection and mediates long-term immunity by generating memory and long-lived effector cells. It is notorious for its complexity.

"Many diseases are associated with dysregulation of the adaptive immune system, including autoimmune conditions, cancer, allergies and immuno-deficiencies. A better understanding of this system would clearly bring health benefits so we will be examining B cell and T cell biology at three levels: the molecular, the cellular, and the whole animal; in the hope of delivering these benefits."

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