Florey scientists awarded Victorian Medical Research Acceleration funding

Professor Andrew Lawrence and Dr Yen Ying Lim have both been awarded funding from the 2018 round of the Victorian Medical Research Acceleration Fund

Minister for Health Jill Hennessy today announced the 30 innovative projects receiving funding to fast-track them from research to reality – which will mean better treatment for patients in Victoria and across the world.

“Victoria is home to some of the world’s brightest medical minds who are saving lives with their ground-breaking discoveries.”

The Government’s $3 million Victorian Medical Research Acceleration Fund is in its second round, more than doubling the projects it will support after funding 13 pioneering projects in 2017.

Dr Yen Ying Lim will receive $100,000 to detect cognitive abnormalities to identify Alzheimer’s disease much earlier than is currently possible.

Sensitive cognitive screening tools for detecting early abnormalities are needed to reduce the social and economic burden of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers require neuroimaging techniques to find candidates for clinical trials. Dr Lim and her team have designed a web-based task that assesses individuals’ ability to learn new information. This involves learning a large set of Chinese characters over six days. Pilot data shows learning rates are substantially reduced in cognitively normal older adults with abnormal Alzheimer’s pathology.  Researchers aim to use this pilot study on other large Alzheimer’s cohorts, to determine task efficacy for pre-screening candidates for clinical trials.

Professor Andrew Lawrence is investigating a treatment option for alcohol use disorder.

In Australia, the health burden of substance use disorders is estimated at approximately $45 billion and in the absence of new strategies, this figure will increase. Professor Lawrence and his team propose a program of trials to re-purposing existing medications into addiction therapies. An existing medication for the treatment of sleep disorders, has the potential to be used for the treatment of alcohol use disorder, as outlined in Professor Lawrence’s recent public lecture which is available to view. Preclinical data from the laboratory suggest that that this drug will also show efficacy in addiction. Human trials using existing client bases will occur at St Vincent’s Hospital.

The Victorian Research Acceleration Fund is part of the Government’s $20 million plan to ensure Victoria stays a world leader in ground-breaking health and medical research that has the power to change lives.

Minister for Health, Jill Hennessey, said, “Victoria is home to some of the world’s brightest medical minds who are saving lives with their ground-breaking discoveries.”

“We started this fund to ensure projects that have the potential to save lives across the world don’t get held up because they couldn’t attract early funding.”

The Florey is a key member of the VicAAMRI coalition of medical research institutes. Collectively, Victoria’s independent medical research institutes have over 5,000 staff and students working tirelessly to unlock the mysteries of fundamental biology. Medical research institutes are working together to find new treatments, better and faster diagnose disease, and improve the lives of Victorians. With the right resources medical research institutes can deliver more new treatments, diagnostics and devices more quickly.