Five research projects led by University staff will commence this year thanks to recent funding awarded by MS Research Australia. Additionally, one of last year’s successful grant recipients, an exercise-based treatment for the disease, has shown great promise in recent trials.
MS Research Australia recently awarded three University researchers ‘Incubator’ grants. These grants provide seed funding for the early stages of new research efforts, with the aim of helping researchers generate the preliminary data needed to support their future grant applications.
Dr Fiona McKay, a research officer from the Centre for Immunology at the Westmead Millennium Institute, was awarded a $22,000 Incubator grant to examine how MS susceptibility genes can be used to understand the role of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in MS.
“The Incubator program is a wonderful opportunity for early career researchers, such as me, to obtain preliminary data required to leverage larger grants,” said Fiona.
Dr Sanjay Swaminathan, a senior lecturer from the Westmead Clinical School, was awarded a $21,000 Incubator grant to study the interaction between gene activity and EBV.
“I was very excited and honoured to receive the Incubator grant, especially as funding for doing novel work is very competitive,” said Sanjay.
Dr Ollie Jay, a senior lecturer in Exercise and Sports Science from the Faculty of Health Sciences, was also awarded a $21,000 Incubator grant to study heat intolerance of people with MS during physical activity in hot weather.
“I’ll be using the funding to support the operation costs of an initial study, examining the potential impact of MS on the physiological regulation of body temperature, that will ultimately lead to a major grant application to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in 2016,” said Ollie.
Additionally, Dr Cheryl Li from the Brain and Mind Research Institute (BMRI) was awarded an $18,000 travel grant. Cheryl will use the grant to visit the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, where she will learn techniques for analysing DNA extracted from brain tissue.
Also, Dr John Parratt from the Sydney Medical School will supervise the research of Sherman Siu, who was awarded a $7500 vacation scholarship to identify new immune proteins and their targets in the rare autoimmune disease neuromyelitis optica.