$10.5 million awarded to Kirby Institute research projects

Media release | Published on 15 Mar 2023

The funding, awarded though the Medical Research Future Fund, will support innovative infectious disease research including the development of RNA vaccines and treatments, clinical trials, and enhanced strategies for hepatitis C and HPV elimination.

Four research projects led by the Kirby Institute have received funds from the Australian Government’s Medical Research Future Fund.

The announcement was made yesterday by The Hon Mark Butler MP Minister for Health and Aged Care, who said the latest round of funding was about strengthening opportunities for Australian health and medical research. “It will help commercialise proof-of-concepts and deepen international research ties now and in the future,” he said.

$5M for a Kirby Institute-led RNA consortium

$5 million from the Medical Research Future Fund has been awarded to a Kirby Institute-led consortium that will boost development of RNA vaccines and therapeutics for COVID-19 and other health threats in Australia.

“The COVID-19 pandemic brought about rapid advances in mRNA and RNA development, and we saw particular success with the mRNA vaccines against COVID-19, demonstrating significant potential of RNA technology as a tool against other health threats,” says Kirby Institute Director Scientia Professor Anthony Kelleher, who is chief investigator on the project. “We welcome this funding from the MRFF, which will enable us to harness and scale up RNA technology in Australia.”

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$2M for hepatitis C point-of-care testing

Kirby Institute research aimed to enhance testing and treatment for hepatitis C (HCV) received $2 million through the Clinical Trials Activity scheme.

“Australia could be one of the first countries in the world to eliminate hepatitis C, however increasing testing and treatment uptake will be essential to achieve the goals set by the WHO,” says Professor Jason Grebely from the Kirby Institute, who is the chief investigator on this grant. “Currently, testing and treatment is hampered because existing pathways require multiple healthcare visits.”

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$2M to improve therapies for severe respiratory infections in hospitalised adults

A project to develop a global master protocol for randomised, placebo-controlled trials has received almost $2 million in funding through the International Clinical Trial Collaborations scheme.

The protocol will be designed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of unlicensed and licensed therapeutics for severe respiratory infections in hospitalised adults.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve seen the development of highly effective treatments for people with early COVID-19, but therapies for people who have severe disease are much less effective,” says Professor Gail Matthews from the Kirby Institute who will be leading the research at the Kirby Institute. “Our study - Strategies and Treatments for Respiratory Infections & Viral Emergencies, or STRIVE – is designed to determine the most effective treatments and strategies in people who are hospitalised with severe respiratory illness both now and during future pandemics.”

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$1.5 million in funding for cervical cancer elimination project 

A Kirby Institute initiative that will develop a digital health tool to aid the equitable elimination of cervical cancer in Australia was awarded $1.5 million through the Primary Health Care Digital Innovations scheme. 

Cervical cancer elimination in Australia could be possible as early as 2035, but for Australia to realise this goal, it is crucial that barriers in the access to cervical cancer prevention services in primary health care are addressed. 

Project lead, Professor Claire Vajdic, and her multi-institutional team will use the $1,58 million in funding to build a new health equity digital navigation tool that will fast-track the elimination of cervical cancer in Australia.  

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