Australian Government Backs Research into Neurological Conditions

Australian Government Backs Research into Neurological Conditions
Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt at a press conference in the Main Committee Room at Parliament House in Canberra on April 8, 2020. (Sam Mooy/Getty Images)
Steve Milne

The Australian government has promised $10.7 million (US$7.5 million) in funding for eight projects across six universities to progress in new fields of neurological research.

The commitment comes under the $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), and Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a release on Tuesday that the projects could revolutionise how medical professionals tackle neurological conditions.

“The grants I am announcing today will give researchers the support and certainty to conduct their vital work,” he said.

“I am confident they will break new ground in diagnosing, treating and—ultimately—finding cures for these chronic neurological conditions.”

Monash University will conduct research on preterm births—babies born at least two weeks early—and the associated developmental delays and impairments.

With no current system in place to monitor the development of these children, the research will focus on shaping a follow-up program targeted to the individual needs of the child and family in an attempt to reduce the burden of developmental impairments.

Parents and health professionals with lived experience will be consulted and play a major role in designing the program.

Meanwhile, a Griffith University team, in collaboration with the autism community, will focus on enhancing the quality of life for both child and family through early intervention.

Reframing Autism, a registered charity that brings families who have a family member diagnosed with autism together, to help each other better understand the condition, is one among a number of organisations the Griffith team will partner with.

Another program, run by a Sydney University team and co-designed with consumers, will customise, evaluate, and implement speech recognition technology for people with chronic degenerative neurological diseases.

Titled “We Hear Your Voice!” this program will focus on older Australians with these conditions.

Other programs receiving funding include the University of Queensland’s Early Sleep Interventions to Improve Outcomes in Children with Neurodisability, the Bionics Institute of Australia’s program of earlier intervention for infants with auditory neuropathy, and an initiative at Curtin University to enable early and accurate detection of speech impairment through a web-based assessment application.

In addition to these programs, the federal government has pledged $18 million for the 2022 Multiple Sclerosis Research  Grant Opportunity, with a focus on prevention, early intervention, and treatment of Epstein-Barr virus, as well as autoimmune conditions including multiple sclerosis.

The government’s $20 billion MRFF is a long-term investment in Australian health and medical research designed to enhance the sustainability of the nation’s health system and build the economy.

Steve is an Australian reporter based in Sydney covering sport, the arts, and politics. He is an experienced English teacher, qualified nutritionist, sports enthusiast, and amateur musician. Contact him at [email protected].
Related Topics