George Institute success highlights research excellence

The George Institute for Global Health will advance its goal of improving the health of millions of people worldwide, following the latest funding announcements from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Executive Director of the Institute for Australia, Professor Vlado Perkovic said the strong result was a recognition of the organisation’s outstanding track record in health research.

“The George Institute has been awarded more than $19 million in project grants and fellowships, which is a fantastic outcome,” Prof Perkovic said.

“It’s also a big increase on last year where our allocation was around $15 million.

“We have some of the best researchers in Australia here, all working towards our mission of improving health.

“The success is a testament to the quality of our research and its direct relevance in tackling the leading health priorities in the country and around the world.”

Professor Perkovic said the Institute’s success rate was well above the national average.

“The George Institute had a success rate of 31% in project grants,” he said.

“This compares to the national overall rate of just 13.6%, further highlighting both the competitive funding environment and the Institute’s achievement.

“We will continue to explore funding avenues for those researchers who missed out on NHMRC funding on this occasion.

“The breadth of the successful funding applications was also a feature, spanning the work of the institute, from disease prevention, to testing new treatments and strategies to deliver health care.”






Clara Chow, Cardiovascular Division

QUARTET - Quadruple UltrA-low-dose tReamenT for hypErTension


High blood pressure is common and a major cause of heart disease and stroke. While many people with hypertension are on some treatment, in over half of cases, blood pressure targets are not reached and their high blood pressure is hence uncontrolled. In this research we investigate whether an approach that combines 4 types of blood pressure lowering medications at quarter doses into one pill, may be a more effective way of controlling blood pressure and doing this with few side effects.


Clara Chow, Cardiovascular Division

TRIDENT - Triple therapy prevention of Recurrent Intracerebral Disease EveNts Trial


Acute intracerebral haemorrhage (ICH) is a serious form of stroke. Survivors of ICH are at high risk of repeat events. Blood pressure lowering is very important to prevent repeat events but data shows blood pressure is poorly controlled in these patients. In this research we will investigate whether an approach that uses a 'triple pill' strategy (3 low dose BP drugs in one pill) in ICH patients with mild to moderate hypertension can decrease major cardiovascular events.


Simon Finfer, Critical Care and Trauma Division

PLUS - The Plasma-Lyte 148® versus Saline Trial


Rapidly giving intravenous fluid to prevent or treat shock (fluid resuscitation) is one of the most common treatments given to critically ill patients. Current guidelines recommend crystalloid solutions but it is unknown whether any particular crystalloid is better than others. This trial will determine whether the use of one of two crystalloid fluids, saline or PlasmaLyte, reduces the risk of organ injuries, such as kidney failure, and improves patients’ chances of surviving critical illness.


Lisa Keay, Injury Division

PlaTFORM – PrevenTing Falls in a high risk, vision impaired population through specialist ORientation and Mobility service


While many older people fall causing injury and loss of confidence, people with vision impairment and blindness have a dramatically increased risk of falls. In the PlaTFORM study we will deliver and comprehensively evaluate a falls prevention program through instructors with specialised training in orientation and mobility. This fills a gap in services and if effective will prevent injury in this vulnerable population and promote mobility.


Richard Lindley, Neurological and Mental Health Division

STAY ENCHANTED - Enhanced Control of Hypertension and Thrombolysis in Stroke Study


"Clot busting" treatment is the only approved medical treatment for the most common type of stroke, ischaemic stroke. However, uptake of treatment remains poor, mainly due to the known major risk of bleeding in the brain. STAY ENCHANTED is an international clinical trial to investigate whether "clot-busting" can be made safer using a lower dose and/or immediate blood pressure lowering. A safer more effective regime could have a major global health impact.




Bruce Neal, Food Policy Division

Reducing population salt consumption in Victoria


Funding Partners: VicHealth, National Heart Foundation (& including w Deakin U)

A 3-year Strategic Partnership, led by VicHealth, is going to implement a multi-faceted ‘Salt Action Challenge’ with the goal of reducing the average daily salt consumption of Victorians by 1g, by June 2018. The research proposed here will test whether this objective was met, provide in-depth insight into the program components that were most effective, and project the impact of the salt reduction achieved on cardiovascular health outcomes for Victoria. The research will use a series of surveys done in the general community, businesses, local government and institutions like schools and workplaces. By doing the surveys before, during and after the 'Salt Action Challenge' has commenced, and by including large numbers of individuals and sites, it will be possible to make estimates of the impact of the intervention that are both precise and reliable. Further, because we will include gold standard assessment of salt levels in urine samples the study findings will be robust. The inclusion of a cost-effectiveness analysis in the last 12 months with ensure that the results have maximal translational impact.




Chris Maher, Musculoskeletal Division

Achieving better health care for low back pain

Back pain is one of the most burdensome conditions across the globe. The direct annual costs of treatment in Australia are ~ $4.8 billion. At present little is known about the diseases that cause back pain, and as such treatments typically can only target the symptoms rather than causes. While prevention is a fundamental tenet of medicine, it is unclear how back pain could be prevented as there is limited research on this important topic.

This fellowship will address the three key issues that hold back improvements in back health: knowledge gaps, evidence-practice gaps and research expertise.


Bruce Neal, Food Policy Division

Preventing and treating diet-related ill health

Diet-related ill-health is the leading cause of disease burden in Australia, and for the next five years I plan an expansion of my discovery and translational research addressing two areas of specific concern: food policy; and the clinical management of diabetes.

I will undertake pivotal new large-scale studies in my established area of expertise, salt reduction, whilst expanding program scope to include novel investigation of the roles of dietary sugars, fats, energy density and portion size.

I will also continue my highly influential clinical research with a focus on the conduct of large-scale outcome trials of glucose control strategies – an area that warrants specific attention because diabetes is one of the most serious and immediate clinical consequences of poor diet, but treatment options with evidence of cardiovascular protection are very limited.




Clara Chow, Cardiovascular Division

Clinical approaches to preventing cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death and disease burden globally. The last few decades have seen substantial discoveries with respect to identifying new treatments that can prevent CVD. However the benefits to population health of these finding are still largely unrealised in everyday clinical care and there remains large evidence practice gaps.

My aim is to build a program to identify and evaluate novel, simple, low-cost and scalable clinical interventions to increase the uptake of effective interventions in order to reduce the burden of CVD in Australia and abroad. I will also evaluate new clinical approaches to blood pressure lowering.


Anne Tiedemann, Musculoskeletal Division

Prevention of falls to promote healthy ageing: new approaches and enhanced implementation

Falls have a major impact in older age and can lead to long term disability, reduced mobility, poor quality of life, aged care admission and even death. At least one in three people aged 65+ falls each year, equating to around 1 million older Australians currently falling annually.

Exercise can prevent falls, maximise independence and improve other aspects of healthy ageing, yet 76% of Australians aged 75+ are insufficiently active. Physical inactivity and falls are major public health issues that are barriers to healthy ageing.

My work will: examine the effectiveness of new physical activity- based interventions aimed at preventing falls to promote healthy ageing; determine the barriers, enablers and preferences of older people for participation in physical activity-based interventions aimed at preventing falls; and enhance the knowledge and skills of health professionals to deliver fall prevention exercise programs.




Jagnoor Jagnoor, Injury Division

Improving health outcomes after trauma

In this fellowship I propose to work on two large cohort studies aiming to improve health outcomes after injuries in road traffic accidents. These studies will look at: major trauma complications and factors that may predict them; social and health outcomes after road traffic injury; and health care utilisation and cost among compensable and non-compensable injuries.

My work will address fundamental questions on major trauma, which will have significant, global public health implications and impact on third party insurance policy in NSW.


Tracey Laba, OCS

Optimising value and equity in access to prescribed medicines

I will examine value and equity in access to prescribed medicines by investigating socioeconomic differences in patterns of prescription, and the clinical and economic consequences of these. My work will determine the role of the health insurance system on value and access to prescribed medicine, and provide evidence-based recommendations to improve pharma reimbursement policies and prescribing practice. Such evidence will ultimately improve the use of value-based medicines within lower socioeconomic groups and will result in greater population health gains and a reduction in national healthcare costs.