$1.4 million in international grants for Aussie scientists

27 June, 2006

Five Australian scientists will receive approximately $1.4 million in grants awarded under the prestigious international Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP).

The program supports cutting-edge research focused on the life sciences, and involves more than 30 countries worldwide. Since HFSP began in 1989, 11 of its scientists have been awarded Nobel Prizes.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) gives Australian researchers the opportunity to access more than $70 million in funding each year through its Australian membership of the program.

Announcing the results of the latest HFSP round, NHMRC Acting CEO, Bill Lawrence, said the grants would allow “Australians to work with world leading international researchers to unravel some of the secrets of DNA, cancer and the way the human brain works to process information.”

Dr Guy Wallis from the University of Queensland, has been awarded an HFSP Program Grant to study the human brain to further develop our understanding of the link between perception, cognition and movement.

Dr Kieran Harvey, from Melbourne’s Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, will use Drosophila (Vinegar fly) to look at the processes that control cell growth, proliferation and cell death during development and disease. These processes are conserved between humans and flies—so the findings of this research will be relevant for human diseases such as cancer.

Dr Ryan Lister, from the University of Western Australia, Dr Biretta Pike of St Vincent Institute in Melbourne, and Dr Nicholas Price from Australian National University, have been awarded long-term fellowships to work in some of the world’s leading research laboratories.

Dr Lister will investigate the regulation of gene expression by DNA methylation at the Salk Institute of Biological Sciences in the United States. This work could be crucial in unravelling the intricate way that genomic information is controlled by complex organisms.

Dr Pike will work at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research in Switzerland to investigate live cell analysis of chromosome and gene positioning in a multicellular organism.

Dr Price will explore the neurophysiology of sensation and perception at the Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA.