$1M research boost at St George and Sutherland hospitals

Grants: The St George and Sutherland Medical Research Foundation (SSMRF) gave out almost $1 million of medical grants today. Pictured is Amanda Henry who will head up a big research project next year. Picture: John Veage

Grants: The St George and Sutherland Medical Research Foundation (SSMRF) gave out almost $1 million of medical grants today. Pictured is Amanda Henry who will head up a big research project next year. Picture: John Veage

Dr Amanda Henry and her team were all smiles after benefiting from a record $1 million of research grants at St George and Sutherland hospitals.

The St George and Sutherland Medical Research Foundation (SSMRF) has funded research at the two hospitals for the past decade – celebrating its 10th birthday last month.

The foundation today announced its biggest round of research grants giving away almost $1 million.

One of the big winners was Dr Henry and her team who received $200,000 for a project starting in February. The project will collect information from 100 women during the course of their pregnancy and the first year after birth.

The study will specifically look at the connection between gut microbiome (or gut bacteria) and its relationship to diseases and complications during pregnancy, like diabetes and high-blood pressure. 

Dr Henry said her team was rapt to receive the funding.

“It will allow us to get everything set up and get mums and babies into the study and to collect and store the samples and take the measurements and keep track of their pregnancy outcomes,” she said. “We are hoping that the knowledge we will get from following these mums and babies will take us to the next step – to treat.”

PhD student Daniella Susic will spend the next two years working on the project.

SSMRF chief executive Jacquie Stratford said the foundation had come a long way since being established in 2007.

“In our first year we funded $100,000 in research grants and now a decade later we have funded just under $1 million worth of grants.”

The $1 million came from a $4 million boost from the Federal Government, which was given to the foundation earlier this year to establish the Microbiome Research Centre (MRC) at St George Hospital.

A total of six grants were handed out today all with connections to the MRC. 

The remaining $3 million will go towards setting up the MRC labs at St George Hospital and funding key research staff, according to Ms Stratford. 

SSMRF chairman John Edmonds thanked the experts who reviewed the grant applications.

“These grants were highly sought after. Applications went through a rigorous process firstly with the SSMRF’s Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) and then the short-listed applicants were interviewed by a distinguished MRC Review Panel.”

MRC director Emad El-Omar said: “It is the highlight of our year to announce the recipients of the inaugural Microbiome Research Centre grants.”

  • The inaugural Microbiome Research Centre grants (valued at almost $1 million):
  • Dr Amanda Henry and team “The Microbiome in Pregnancy and Infancy”.
  • Professor Michael Grimm and team “The longitudinal course of inflammatory bowel disease”.
  • Dr Peter Wu and team “Oro-Pharyngeal dysbiosis in head and neck cancer”.
  • Dr Bill Giannakopouulos and team “Murine and human studies SLE APS”.
  • Professor Beng Chong and team “Role of microbiota dysbiosis in immune thrombocytopenia and thrombosis”.
  • Dr Winston Liauw and team “Anti-cancer therapy on the gut microbiome in gastrointestinal cancer”.
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