Blood specimens plasma. Credit: Lifeblood

Kirby Institute and Lifeblood partnership receives NHMRC funds

Research to improve and protect Australia’s blood supply has received a competitive NHMRC partnership grant.

News | Published on 24 Aug 2023 by Lucienne Bamford

The Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney has been awarded an almost $1.5 million Partnership Grant by the National Health and Medical Research Council to continue and enhance its long-term collaboration with Australian Red Cross Lifeblood on research aimed at protecting Australia’s blood supply.

Maintaining a safe and sufficient blood supply is an essential element of a functioning health system. Research is required to respond to new demands, such as ensuring that donor eligibility criteria are as inclusive as possible, and the call for blood specimens to contribute to surveillance of emerging and re-emerging disease.

“We welcome this renewed funding from the NHMRC,” says Professor John Kaldor, who is the lead investigator on the grant. “The Kirby Institute brings strengths in a range of key research disciplines, including in epidemiological evaluation, mathematical modelling, health economics and social science. Our research will investigate community attitudes to blood donation and its eligibility criteria and evaluate how changes in policy may impact blood safety and supply. A new element in our collaboration will be research aimed at making optimal use of blood donations for monitoring emerging infectious pathogens in the community.”

Over the past three year the Kirby Institute has collaborated with Lifeblood and a number of other organisations, including with National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) and the Doherty Institute to conduct surveillance for COVID-19 infection in blood donors. “We need more information on the extent to which blood donors are reflective of the wider population, to inform the planning and conduct of public health strategies. We look forward to expanding research with Lifeblood over the course of this grant,” says Prof Kaldor.

Other investigators on the grant include Veronica Hoad, David Irving, Iain Gosbell, Peter Bentley, Rachel Thorpe, Rena Hirani, Robert Harley and Claire Styles, from Lifeblood; Barbara Masser from the University of Queensland; Skye McGregor, Virginia Wiseman, Dorothy Machalek, Hamish McManus, Bridget Haire, Mohamed Hammoud, and Rebecca Guy from the Kirby Institute; and Kristine Macartney from the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance.