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Two new research centres secure federal funding

Institute News
Thursday, October 8, 2020 - 12:13pm

Two Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) led research centres aiming to break cycles of intergenerational trauma and preventing pneumonia in the Asia-Pacific will be established after receiving federal funding. 

The Centre for Research Excellence (CRE) projects have each received $2.5 million over five years from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). 

MCRI Professor Stephanie Brown will lead the Stronger Futures CRE: building resilience and breaking cycles of intergenerational trauma and social inequity.

“The transmission of complex trauma across generations is a global public health and human rights issue,” she said. 

“Despite growing recognition of intergenerational cycles of trauma and family violence, there is limited research evidence regarding effective intervention strategies to prevent or reduce intergenerational transmission of complex trauma and/or enable healing and recovery from the effects of trauma.”

Professor Brown said the project would be a collaborative, multi-stakeholder program of research and translational activity to reduce the impacts of intergenerational trauma and family violence within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, refugee and socially disadvantaged families and communities.

“Our five-year goal is to improve social and emotional wellbeing, family functioning and resilience in families and communities disproportionately impacted by intergenerational trauma and family violence,” she said. “In the longer term, our aim is to contribute to reversal of the current upward trends in rates of suicide, self-harm and mental health disorders in children and young people.” 
 
Professor Fiona Russell will lead the CRE-PDC: Asia-Pacific Pneumococcal Disease Control in the Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine Era.

“Pneumonia is one of the commonest causes of childhood death worldwide. The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) prevents pneumonia but it is costly; and many countries do not have monitoring systems in place to determine the full impact of the vaccine,” she said.

Professor Russell said the project would address when to switch from a three to two dose PCV schedule to make it more affordable and provide important information to understand how the different strains of bacteria, not included in the vaccine, may change over time, and what impact this could have on disease control.

“This project will support government decisions in the Asia-Pacific region regarding adopting reduced dose PCV schedules by identifying potential immunological markers which suggest a reduced dose schedule is likely to be successful and providing the economic evidence to inform decision making,” she said.

“We will also understand how PCV impacts on the different strains of pneumococci not included in the vaccine, as this may change over time. This is important for all countries including low- and middle- income countries in the Asia-Pacific and is of global relevance.”

Professor Russell said the project would bring together internationally recognised academics in pneumococcal public health, microbiology, immunology, biostatistics, genomics and health economics; as well as key Ministry of Health decision makers, to ensure research findings were translated into policy and guidelines.

In other news 

A paediatric myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) project also received $784,063 from the NHMRC.
 
The collaborative project will be led by the University of Melbourne’s Bio21 institute with MCRI Chief Investigators Dr Elisha Josev, Dr Sarah Knight and Associate Professor Adam Scheinberg.  
 
Dr Josev said the project sought to understand the mechanisms underlying the disease in adolescence using state-of-the-art metabolomic, proteomic and genomic approaches.
 
She said the study would further the work of the MCRI Paediatric ME/CFS Research Program which had previously investigated different aspects of the condition in children.
 
“The research findings have the potential to identify diagnostic biomarkers of the condition, aid in prognosis, and lead to the development of new treatments,” she said.