Professor Melissa Little, who was awarded over $3M for kidney research.
Professor Melissa Little, who was awarded over $3M for kidney research.

19 October 2012

Researchers from the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) have been awarded $12.8 million for health and medical research in 2013, including several grants and a fellowship to Professor Melissa Little for kidney research.

Altogether, IMB scientists won 16 Project grants worth $9.3 million, five fellowships and one grant to collaborate with European researchers.

Professor Little, who was offered three Project grants, a Senior Principal Research Fellowship and an EU Collaboration grant, spoke of the importance of research into renal disease.

“In Australia, 11.3 per cent of deaths are the result of, or related to, chronic kidney disease, which is rising at six per cent per annum fuelled by an ageing population, increased rates of obesity and diabetes and declining access to organs for transplantation.

“The only available treatment options are dialysis, which is expensive and has a high rate of mortality, and kidney transplantation, which but only occurs in 6 per cent of dialysis patients.”

The grants and fellowship awarded to Professor Little will support her research into cellular therapies for kidney disease, including projects that seek to increase the number of nephrons in adult kidneys.

Nephrons are the filters of the kidney, and the number of nephrons in each human kidney is affected by genetic and environmental factors, ranging from 200,000 to 2.5 million per kidney.

“The less nephrons a person has, the more at risk they are of renal disease,” Professor Little said.

“All nephrons are formed in the womb, meaning babies who are premature, have suffered growth retardation in the uterus or with particular genetic backgrounds are at risk of low nephron numbers and subsequent renal disease.

“Strategies to prolong the time in which nephrons form or that allow nephrons to generate after birth would have a significant impact on the prevalence and progression of this condition.”

This project will investigate whether adult kidney cells can be ‘reprogrammed’ to create nephron progenitor cells, the cells from which nephrons develop, which would potentially allow the kidney to reactivate nephron formation after birth.

Other IMB researchers to be awarded NHMRC grants or fellowships are:

Fellowships:

·       Professor Glenn King

·       Associate Professor Rick Sturm

·       Associate Professor Rohan Teasdale

·       Professor Alpha Yap

 Project Grants:

·       Dr Irina Vetter

·       Professor Rob Parton

·       Professor Matt Cooper

·       Associate Professor Carol Wicking

·       Dr Ben Hogan

·       Dr Mat Francois

·       Dr Matt Sweet

·       Dr Michael Landsberg

·       Professor David Fairlie

·       Dr Ryan Taft

·       Professor David Craik

·       Dr Kelly Smith

·       Dr Lachlan Coin

 Contact: IMB Communications - 3346 2134 or 0418 575 247

 

 

 

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