HMRI a world-class research hub
When a doctor delivers a troubling diagnosis to you or a loved one, we all want to hear the simple, reassuring words: "But there's something we can do …" That "something" is usually the fruit of medical research.
The Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) is a world-class research hub with more than 1100 researchers, students and staff working in the new HMRI Building and across various University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and Calvary Mater Newcastle campuses.
The seven key research programs explore a range of illnesses and conditions:
Brain and Mental Health: Includes stroke, schizophrenia, dementia, affective and addictive disorders, pain and sensory dysfunction.
Cancer: Developing life-saving therapies for breast, prostate, melanoma, gastrointestinal, bowel, ovarian and cervical cancers.
Cardiovascular Health: Looks into the control of heart-lung interaction and lymphatic systems, heart disease, nutrition, physical activity, obesity and diabetes.
Information Based Medicine: Investigating the genetic and molecular markers associated with major illnesses and developing personalised treatment approaches.
Pregnancy and Reproduction: Understanding the mechanisms that influence or lead to premature birth and the prevention of premature birth, as well as fertility issues.
Public Health: Uniting public health and health services planning and reducing preventable death or disability by changing the community's health behaviours. This is done by collaborating with health practitioners, care providers, policy providers, government and non-government organisations.
VIVA: Research includes viral infections, infections and immunity, vaccine development, asthma and airway diseases.
The need for community support
While HMRI receives infrastructure funding and grants from the State and Federal governments it relies heavily on community support to provide pilot grants for new and innovative research projects.
Many of the most important findings in medical research begin with seed-funded studies, and seed funding begins with small weekly contributions from caring individuals.
HMRI's research is driven by the health needs of the local community with a clear goal of delivering life-changing results that can also have a global impact. Remember, every person touched by medical research goes on to impact many more lives - whether they be a parent, sibling, friend or colleague.
The University of Newcastle offers staff the opportunity to support the life-changing research at HMRI via Workplace Giving (WPG). By making a fortnightly donation to the equivalent of one cup of coffee a week you have the potential to save countless lives.
WPG is a simple, effective and affordable way to support HMRI. WPG donations (as nominated by you) are automatically deducted from your pay until otherwise advised. You will automatically receive an immediate tax benefit from your wage as deductions are made pre-tax. WPG to HMRI eliminates the need to collect receipts or wait until the EOFY to claim a tax refund.
For further information on WPG, or to start making a fortnightly contribution to HMRI, please contact Kiera Rogalewski at HMRI on 4042 1000 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Current research highlights
Within the last six months HMRI researchers have made many significant discoveries, some of which are highlighted below:
Asthma Researchers make virus and allergy breakthrough
Professor Joerg Mattes and his team are a step closer to identifying the source of serious virus-and allergen-induced asthma attacks after detecting important molecular signals generated very early in the disease process. The proteins identified are generated in the innermost layer of the airways, where the body has first contact with allergens and viruses, and once activated they appear to modulate many other disease factors. The team can now target these earlier signals rather than the hundreds of downstream effects, setting a platform for the development of new drugs.
Prostate Cancer Trail has yielded promising results
A Hunter-led prostate cancer trial using hormone therapy to impede testosterone levels, in conjunction with radiotherapy, has yielded promising clinical results. According to Professor Jim Denham, "We are aiming to see whether 18 months of hormone therapy is superior to the standard six months of treatment. We obviously want better treatment outcomes but not at the price of severe side effects. I am highly encouraged by the quality-of-life findings, which are considerably better than anticipated".
New gene regions shed light on female infertility
Four new gene regions linked to endometriosis have been discovered in an international study involving University of Newcastle researchers. The genome-wide study of 5648 Australian, Japanese and European women with endometriosis gives a significantly clearer picture of the causes of this gynaecological condition, which affects up to 10 per cent of Australian women and is responsible for about half of all female infertility.
Led by Dr Nicole Ryan, HMRI researchers have recently discovered that a drug widely used to treat pain and epilepsy can substantially reduce the severity of long-term chronic coughing. The research findings are the first to show that the drug Gabapentin suppresses a nerve-related trigger responsible for stimulating persistent coughing. Refractory chronic cough can be both psychologically and physically disabling, and there have been no effective drugs available.
Prevention of Childhood Obesity
A project at the University of Newcastle aims to help NSW childcare providers implement programs that prevent childhood obesity. Dr Luke Wolfenden (HMRI 2012 PULSE Early Career Researcher of the Year) is working with 200 NSW pre-schools and long day care centres to determine how best to support them in improving the physical activity opportunities and healthy eating options for children. This study has the capacity to inform policy makers and contribute to the ways in which child care providers can help reduce the health burden of excessive weight gain in children.