MSK NHMRC Grants 2016


ANZMUSC would like to congratulate Australian musculoskeletal researchers who have been successful in NHMRC funding applications in 2016.


Scanning NHMRC’s Summary of Results file updated December 3, we have identified 38 grants totalling over $27Million that are relevant to the ANZMUSC vision of optimising musculoskeletal health through research.


The full list of 38 grants is below:

CIA_Name Grant Type Grant Title Admin Institution Total Plain Description
Dr Steven Kamper Career Development Fellowships Spinal pain and lifestyle-related health risk factors; disentangling the relationship and evaluating better management strategies University of Sydney $425,048 Spinal pain and lifestyle health factors such as overweight, smoking and lack of physical activity are major problems in Australia. They cause huge personal suffering and enormous cost to the healthcare system. Despite the fact that spinal pain and lifestyle factors are often linked, their prevention and treatment are typically separate. This program of research aims to understand how spinal pain and lifestyle risk factors interact, to help make prevention and treatment for both more effective.
Dr Michelle Dowsey Career Development Fellowships Toward an evidence-based approach for treating end-stage knee arthritis University of Melbourne $425,048 World-wide more than one million total knee replacements (TKR) will be performed for end-stage knee osteoarthritis in 2016 alone. With an ageing population, demand for this procedure will increase dramatically, placing burden on a constrained health system. Up to 25% of TKR recipients experience on going pain after surgery and are dissatisfied with TKR. My research seeks to improve efficiencies and equitability of this important surgical procedure and in doing so optimise patient outcomes
Dr Gianina Ravenscroft Career Development Fellowships Gene discovery and pathobiology in muscle diseases University of Western Australia $425,048 I aim to find the genetic causes of muscle diseases that are lethal or severely debilitating. These diseases result in a significant burden to the affected individuals and their families and also on Australia’s Health care system. A genetic diagnosis provides families with answers, allows family planning, such that couples do not have another affected child, enables appropriate clinical management and gives researchers evidence as to how to develop treatments.
Dr Dominic Thewlis Career Development Fellowships Improving the functional outcomes of lower limb orthopaedic surgery University of Adelaide $425,048 While orthopaedic surgery usually achieves pain relief and improves function somewhat, it can often leave a patient unable to perform certain activities. And these abnormal movement patterns are likely to cause further problems. This project will objectively measure post-surgical function, in order to improve the surgery and rehabilitation of some of the most complex orthopaedic conditions. The goal is that patients receive the maximum benefit from surgery.
Dr Mandana Nikpour Career Development Fellowships Improving Outcomes in Systemic Autoimmune Disease: a Collaborative and Interdisciplinary Program of Research University of Melbourne $425,048 The multi-organ autoimmune diseases ‘scleroderma’ and ‘lupus’ have a profound negative impact on quality of life and life expectancy. The overall goal of my research is to improve patient outcomes in these two diseases. My collaborative and interdisciplinary research program entails quantifying disease burden, identifying patient subsets, optimising screening for complications, developing outcome measures for use in practice and research, and trialing new therapies.
Dr Julie Brown Career Development Fellowships Preventing injury through evidence based product design, standards & guidelines for use University of New South Wales $470,144 By 2020, road traffic injuries are predicted to become the third leading contributor to the global burden of disease. My vision is to prevent road crash-related by improving the performance of protective equipment. I will work to improve access to effective child restraint systems that are easy to use correctly; enhance safe mobility of older people; determine potential for improved motorcycle safety by enhanced design of vehicle and equipment; and appropriate use of motorcycles by children.
Dr David Scott Career Development Fellowships Reducing Risk Factors for Falls and Fracture in Obese Older Australians Monash University $425,048 Australia’s obese older population is growing, and a large number of fractures now occur in obese older adults. This research program aims to reduce falls and fracture risk in obese older adults through innovative exercise programs which target improvements in bone and muscle health, and a wearable device that enables measurement of this type of exercise. The findings will contribute to exercise guidelines which are urgently needed to reduce the costly impact of falls and fracture in Australia.
Dr Michael Doran Career Development Fellowships Bridging the fields of cartilage, bone marrow and cancer research Queensland University of Technology $470,144 This Fellowship will bring together technologies and expertise in cartilage tissue engineering, in vitro haematopoietic stem cell (HSC) self-renewal, HSC transplantation, and in platform development for the study of prostate cancer bone metastasis.  By exploiting the intersection of multiple diseases and tissue platforms, we hope to be able to contribute significantly to improved cartilage repair, bone marrow/cord blood stem cell transplants, and the treatment of metastatic prostate cancer.
Prof Peter Choong Centres of Research Excellence Centre for Research Excellence in Total Joint Replacement OPtimising oUtcomes, equity, cost effectiveness and patient Selection (OPUS) University of Melbourne $2,500,000 Joint replacement surgery is one of the most successful surgeries performed in Australia and globally. With an ageing population, demand for this procedure will increase dramatically, placing burden on a constrained health system. This Centre targets the journey of patients undergoing joint replacement surgery, seeking to optimise patient safety and outcomes, in addition to improving efficiencies and equitablity of this important surgical procedure.
Prof Mark Willcox Development Grants Innovative antimicrobial treatments for successful bone allografts University of New South Wales $473,706 Bone healing sites are commonly infected, and this is associated with adverse clinical and significant socioeconomic outcomes. These studies will determine whether our novel antimicrobials can be used to reduce bone infections by studying the combination of antimicrobials and bone in laboratory and bone fracture studies whilst minimising the potential of developing antibiotic resistance.
Prof Markus Kuster Development Grants Superior surgical fixation using a novel orthopaedic expandable fastener Curtin University of Technology $414,076 Surgeons repair bone fractures using metal plates and screws. Sometimes the screws loosen and the surgery needs to be repeated. Expandable screws are stronger, but more difficult and sometimes impossible to remove. The research team will test a new type of screw that holds the bones together with greater strength (our current work shows 40% stronger) but can be removed easily if necessary. This grant will allow extensive mechanical testing in preparation for a first-in-human clinical trial.
Prof Melissa Knothe Tate Development Grants Manufacture and Testing of Next Generation Orthopaedic Implants Harnessing Periosteum’s Regenerative Power University of New South Wales $508,314 Tissue defects, e.g. due to trauma or tumor removal, are too large to heal without reconstructive surgery. Complications associated with defect repair may diminish the patient’s quality of life and productivity, posing significant medical and psychosocial costs. Here we propose a plan to define technical specifications for next generation, “smart” orthopaedic implants that deliver cells and the signals they need to build new tissue using nature’s paradigms.
Dr Jiao Jiao Li Early Career Fellowships (Australia) A novel strategy for the treatment of chronic skeletal joint defects University of Sydney $318,768 Skeletal joint injuries often heal poorly with current treatment approaches and lead to the onset of osteoarthritis. This project will produce a synthetic graft with unique properties to mimic the complex structure of joint tissues, and high bioactivity to induce optimal healing of the joint. This graft will constitute a viable alternative for the treatment of skeletal joint defects, resulting in significant healthcare benefits and improved long-term outcomes.
Dr Carolyn Berryman Early Career Fellowships (Australia) Investigating cortical plasticity and connectivity in people with chronic low back pain and controls using combined TMS_EEG University of Adelaide $318,768 Little is known about the factors that predispose the development of chronic low back pain or what changes underpin effective treatment. Brain changes, thought to reflect adaptive processes are associated with chronic pain, but the extent of their contribution to CLBP is unknown. By measuring the adaptability of brain changes in people with CLBP I will determine if they differ from healthy controls in a way that predisposes them to develop chronic pain and is related to treatment response.
Dr Joanne Kemp Early Career Fellowships (Australia) The Femoroacetabular Impingement Rehabilitation STudy (FIRST): A participant and assessor-blinded randomised controlled trial of physiotherapy for hip impingement. La Trobe University $255,014 Hip impingement is a common cause of hip and groin pain in adults. It is a risk factor for the development of hip arthritis and hip replacement surgery in later life. People with hip impingement have more pain and poorer quality of life (QoL) compared to population norms. This study will determine if physiotherapy can improve pain/QoL in people with hip impingement.
Dr Benny Samuel Eathakkattu Antony Early Career Fellowships (Australia) From imaging to intervention in osteoarthritis and back pain University of Tasmania $318,768 Osteoarthritis and back pain are regarded as cartilage disorders, however recent evidence suggests that underlying bone and joint fluid pathology are also involved. This project takes a unique approach of targeting bone and joint fluid pathology of knee osteoarthritis and back pain, and will test the effects of existing therapies and krill oil through clinical trials. If successful, it will have the potential to slow progression to joint replacement through an easy method of implementation.
Dr Adam Culvenor Early Career Fellowships (Overseas) Identifying strategies to reduce the risk of kneecap arthritis after serious knee ligament injury La Trobe University $408,768 Early-onset kneecap arthritis, and associated pain and disability, affects younger adults at an alarming rate after serious knee ligament injury – “young people, old knees”.  This research aims to identify modifiable risk factors for early-onset kneecap arthritis (reconstruction surgery, knee biomechanics and functional deficits) which will aid the development of interventions to minimise onset and progression of kneecap arthritis, and reduce the burden of this important public health problem.
Dr Michaela Yuen Early Career Fellowships (Overseas) Understanding the cause of muscle weakness in Nemaline myopathy (NM) – moving towards the development of targeted treatments University of Sydney $408,768 Congenital myopathy patients have unremitting, life-long muscle weakness that severely affects their quality of life and ability to perform normal daily activities. Currently no effective therapies exist for these conditions, largely due to our limited understanding of the mechanisms leading to muscle weakness. This ECF aims to determine the cause of weakness and test two therapies which have shown promise for other conditions and can be translated into clinical use for myopathies if effective.
Dr John Arnold Early Career Fellowships (Overseas) Defining treatment targets to optimise the management of early midfoot osteoarthritis University of South Australia $408,768 Midfoot osteoarthritis (OA) is a common cause of foot pain and responsible for significant pain and disability. This project will investigate the early structural and functional changes in the midfoot joints and determine the relationships between foot joint loading, structural changes, symptoms and functional impairment. This will identify modifiable factors involved in midfoot OA and define treatment targets to inform the development of effective interventions.
Mr Hopin Lee Early Career Fellowships (Overseas) Moving research into practice – using process evaluations of treatment mechanisms to inform the implementation of evidence-based healthcare University of Newcastle $408,768 Effective treatments must be integrated into clinical practice. But this process isn’t always efficient. One reason for this is a lack of understanding for how treatments work. My research will identify treatment mechanisms for chronic back pain (leading cause of disability world-wide) and use this information to integrate effective reatments into practice. I will work with experts from the Oxford Clinical Trials Unit, UK and apply this research to clinical health service units in Australia.
Prof David Hunter Partnerships Optimising primary care management of knee osteoarthritis: the PARTNER project. University of Sydney $1,155,444 Our overall aim is to implement a cost-effective, sustainable, evidence-based model of co-ordinated primary care targeting both the general practitioner and the patient that improves management and outcomes for overweight/obese people with knee osteoarthritis (OA) and reduces health care costs.
Prof Graeme Jones Practitioner Fellowships From imaging to intervention in osteoarthritis University of Tasmania $338,938 This fellowship will allow the applicant to continue his studies into understanding and intervening in osteoarthritis. He will use a combination of observational studies and clinical trials to achieve this purpose.
Dr Justine Ellis Project Grants Towards a diagnostic test for juvenile idiopathic arthritis Murdoch Childrens Research Institute $661,670 Childhood arthritis is an autoimmune disease that affects around 6000 Australian children. It can be difficult to diagnose, but quick diagnosis is important to prevent ongoing pain and limit long term damage to joints. We have been able to use genetic information to predict which people have autoimmune celiac disease. In this project, we will find out how well genetic information can predict which children have childhood arthritis, and whether genetics can be used as a diagnostic test.
Dr Kathryn Poole Project Grants Mechanoelectrical transduction in chondrocytes University of New South Wales $441,114 The cells that produce and maintain our cartilage, known as chondrocytes, do so by sensing changes in the mechanical environment, but precisely how chondrocytes detect these changes is not known. We are investigating the role of ion channels that are opened in direct response to mechanical movements within the cartilage.This project plans to identify the specific molecules that are participating in this process and to determine if they are therapeutic targets for treatment of osteoarthritis
A/Pr Luke Henderson Project Grants Chronic pain: How and why does it develop? University of Sydney $1,035,928 Pain has a detrimental impact on ones quality of life and a significant financial impact on the community. It has recently been revealed that chronic pain is associated with altered brain anatomy and function. Using human brain imaging, we aim to determine the underlying reason for these changes by following individuals during the development of pain. Defining the mechanism underlying pain will aid in the development of better treatment regimens.
A/Pr Manuela Ferreira Project Grants SUcceSS: SUrgery for Spinal Stenosis – a randomised placebo-controlled trial University of Sydney $2,303,245 This will be the first placebo-controlled randomised trial of surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis and aims to determine the efficacy and safety of this intervention in decreasing pain and improving disability in this population. The cost-effectiveness of surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis will also be determined.
Dr Trisha Peel Project Grants The Arthroplasty Surgical Antibiotic Prophylaxis (ASAP) Study University of Melbourne $3,509,985 The demand for total joint replacement surgery will double over the next decade. Infection involving the surgical wound is a devastating complication of this surgery. Half of all infections are due to methicillin resistant Staphylococcus (such as MRSA) and Enterococcus. This multicentre randomised controlled trial aims to investigate whether the addition of vancomycin at the time of surgery reduces the incidence of surgical wound infections; is safe and is cost-effective.
Prof Gordon Lynch Project Grants Therapeutic potential of skeletal muscle plasticity and slow muscle programming for muscular dystrophy University of Melbourne $780,476 There is no cure for DMD, a devastating, life-limiting muscle disease causing progressive muscle wasting in boys and young men. A potential therapy may come from modulating muscle activity patterns to promote a protective slow muscle phenotype through low-frequency stimulation protocols and/or well-described pharmacological ‘exercise mimetics’. This proposal will evaluate their therapeutic merit in mouse models of DMD to answer the key questions to advance this approach to the clinic.
Prof Cory Xian Project Grants NT-3 as an upstream and potentially master regulator promoting bone fracture healing University of South Australia $712,857 There is a strong clinical need for cost-effective treatments for delayed healing or non-union bone fractures. Our recent data suggest injury site-derived neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) may be an important overall regulator of bone repair by inducing key factors involved in fracture callus formation and remodelling. This project will address roles and mechanisms of endogenous NT-3 in bone repair and the likelihood of exogenous NT-3 protein in promoting bone healing in clinically relevant fracture models.
Prof Jiake Xu Project Grants Gene mining for novel molecular determinants of the skeleton University of Western Australia $633,447 Musculoskeletal conditions affect over 6 million Australians and research has shown that genetic background strongly influences development of these disorders. This project will identify genes that have a role in controlling bone and joint architecture. Identification of these genes will assist in the development of treatments targeting bone disorders and allow screening for these genes to provide an opportunity for people to take preventative action to improve bone and joint health.
A/Pr Marco Casarotto Project Grants Decrypting the Excitation Contraction coupling machinery in skeletal muscle Australian National University $914,869 Skeletal muscle function is dependent upon the fine control of calcium levels. When communication of key proteins in muscle are compromised, calcium levels are uncontrolled leading to severe disabilities. The molecular pathways that control signalling between key muscle proteins is currently unknown and shedding light on this topic will aid in the discovery of therapies for muscle-associated disabilities in disease and with aging.
Dr Andrew Teichtahl Project Grants METHODS – A randomised controlled trial of METhotrexate to treat Hand Osteoarthritis with Synovitis Monash University $770,014 Hand osteoarthritis (OA) is common, but has no treatment. Almost 50% of people with hand OA will have joint swelling (synovitis). The hand joint of people with synovitis are 3.5 times more likely to experience joint destruction within as little as 2 years. Drugs used to treat synovitis may reduce pain and joint destruction. We propose that treating patients with symptomatic hand OA and synovitis with the anti-synovitis drug, methotrexate, will be a major medical advance.
Prof David Evans Project Grants Development and application of a Mendelian randomization framework aimed at dissecting the biological basis of ankylosing spondylitis and other complex diseases University of Queensland $279,666 Our aim is to identify genes and biological molecules that cause a type of autoimmune arthritis called ankylosing spondylitis. Our approach involves finding combinations of genes that are related to biological molecules of interest and then testing to see whether the gene combination is also related to risk of disease. We hope that our strategy will lead to new drug treatments targeting the condition.
Prof Rana Hinman Project Grants Footwear for self-managing knee osteoarthritis symptoms: the Footstep Trial University of Melbourne $590,532 Self-management of symptoms is an important part of treatment for people with knee osteoarthritis. Footwear influences forces across the knee joint and it is unclear which types of shoes are best to minimise arthritis symptoms. This study will compare the effects of flat flexible shoes to stable supportive shoe styles on pain and physical function over 6 months in people with painful knee osteoarthritis.
Prof Andrew Palmer Project Grants AusGo-SHEMO….Let’s Go! Australian Gold Standard Health Economics Model of Osteoporosis University of Tasmania $378,959 We will develop an unbiased, gold standard, validated, transparent health economics model of osteoporosis to identify cost-effective screening and treatment strategies, and that will be made widely available to all stakeholders. Without this model, scarce health care resources may be squandered on osteoporosis screening strategies and osteoporosis-related fracture prevention medications that are not cost-effective. Worse, patient access to cost-effective medications may be delayed.
Prof Matthew Brown Research Fellowships Solving the causes of and development of new therapies for ankylosing spondylitis and related diseases Queensland University of Technology $863,910 Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a highly heritable and common form of arthritis affecting primarily the spine and pelvis, and is the 2nd most common form of arthritis worldwide (~0.55%).  In this fellowship I will extend my world-leading program of AS research by increasing understanding of its basic causes through research into its genetic and environmental triggers, and from this develop new treatments for this and related diseases such as psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease.
Dr Paul Gregorevic Research Fellowships Using gene delivery technologies to define novel mechanisms of skeletal muscle adaptation, and develop muscle-directed interventions for frailty and serious illness Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute $631,370 The focus of my research is to investigate the cellular mechanisms underlying regulation of skeletal muscle size and function in health and disease. By defining these processes we can establish the events contributing to muscle wasting and frailty commonly associated with serious illness and advancing age, and develop interventions to prevent/overcome this important contributor to poor health prospects and reduced survival.
Prof Rob Herbert Research Fellowships Principal Research Fellowship University of New South Wales $838,845 I conduct research in physiotherapy, especially physiotherapy treatments for muscle contracture. Over the next 5 years I will investigate mechanisms of normal muscle growth and muscle contracture in adults with stroke and children with cerebral palsy. I will also conduct clinical studies investigating prophylaxis for haemophilia, prevention of complications after spinal cord injury, and multi-level surgery for contracture in children with cerebral palsy.