Newcastle wins health research funding
Two postdoctoral researchers at the University of Newcastle have secured more than half a million dollars to progress their research into combating asthma and uncovering the mystery behind losing a sense of balance.
Dr Kelly Asquith and Dr Brett Graham from the Faculty of Health have each been awarded a $274,000 Training Postgraduate Fellowship from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
Dr Asquith will focus on new treatment strategies for asthma sufferers and other related allergic disorders such as allergic rhinitis.
"The current understanding of the development of asthma is fairly basic and little has been accomplished by way of targeted intervention," Dr Asquith said.
"Treatment relies on broad spectrum anti-inflammatory agents which are often ineffective so new strategies are needed to help combat the disease.
"My research will investigate the therapeutic potential of targeting a common receptor protein called beta c - which controls allergic inflammation - and assess its potential to reduce or eliminate asthma attacks."
Dr Asquith's research is one of many projects being undertaken by the University of Newcastle's Priority Research Centre for Asthma and Respiratory Diseases in collaboration with the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) Viruses, Infections/Immunity, Viruses and Asthma (VIVA) Research Program.
Dr Graham's research will investigate what occurs when our sense of balance is disrupted, a problem of particular importance to the elderly.
"Our sense of balance is controlled by the vestibular system in the inner ear and when it is disrupted we experience symptoms such as a loss of balance, dizziness and nausea," Dr Graham said.
"We already know that it is a major contributing factor associated with falls in the elderly yet little is known about the underlying mechanisms responsible for vestibular dysfunction.
"My studies will progress our understanding of balance processing mechanisms in the brain and assist in taking the first steps towards identifying treatment strategies to combat balance problems."
Dr Graham conducts his research within the University's Priority Reseach Centre for Brain and Mental Health in collaboration with the HMRI Brain and Mental Health Program.
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