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Curtin health research awarded more than $4 million in NHMRC funding

Media release

Curtin University has been awarded more than $4 million by the Federal Government to tackle vitamin D deficiency among Indigenous Australians and investigate early indicators of cognitive impairment in babies.

Federal Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt, today announced two Curtin-led research projects received the funding under the latest round of National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grants.

The first project, co-led by Professor Catherine Elliott from Curtin’s School of Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Speech Pathology, was awarded $2.26 million from the NHMRC Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies grant program to explore early indicators of cognitive impairment in babies younger than three months old to ensure earlier intervention. The project is a collaboration with Dr Jane Valentine, from the Perth Children’s Hospital, and a large national and international team of clinicians and researchers.

The other project, led by Dr Lucinda Black from Curtin’s School of Public Health, aims to address the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, receiving $1.77 million from the NHMRC Ideas Grant program. The project is a collaboration with Aboriginal communities in the Kimberley and Perth, Ms Dale Tilbrook, Dr Noel Nannup and a large national team of researchers and dietitians, including from Telethon Kids Institute.

Curtin University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Chris Moran congratulated Professor Elliott and Dr Black on being awarded NHMRC funding for their research projects.

“As part of this new NHMRC-funded cohort study, the parents of 3,000 babies will use a smartphone app to identify early risks of cognitive impairment to ensure their children receive the appropriate support in a timely manner that gives them the best possible start to life,” Professor Moran said.

“The NHMRC-funded Ideas project will investigate food-based sources of vitamin D and safe sun exposure in a bid to address vitamin D deficiency, which is linked to low birthweight and many chronic diseases that are disproportionately affecting Indigenous Australians.

“Both research projects will investigate important solutions for health issues in children and Indigenous Australians, so we are delighted to welcome this support from the Federal Government.”

NHMRC Ideas grants support innovative health and medical research projects.

The NHMRC Clinical Trial and Cohort Studies grants support high-quality clinical trials and cohort studies that address important gaps in knowledge for the benefit of human health.

For more information about the NHMRC grants, visit here.