Funding success to aid early interventions for cancer and stroke

Monday, 16 July 2018


Two exceptional Early to Mid-Career Researchers have secured more than $1.16 million to explore early intervention methods for two significant health challenges.

Dr Adjanie Patabendige and A/Prof Doan Ngo

The fellowships will facilitate the exploration of early prevention against heart disease in cancer survivors, and early detection of neurological deterioration in ischaemic stroke.

The University of Newcastle, Hunter Medical Research Institute and Hunter New England Health affiliates received two of the nine fellowships awarded by the NSW Ministry of Health under the NSW Health Early-Mid Career Fellowships Scheme.

University of Newcastle Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation), Professor Kevin Hall, said this achievement was a testament to the Hunter’s bright minds in research.

“Early intervention methods are vital in ensuring we are protecting population health and preventing the effects of a chronic disease burden moving into the future.

“I sincerely congratulate the recipients on their impressive achievement and look forward to the outcomes of this critical work in safeguarding the future health of our communities,” Professor Hall said.

The recipients and projects are:

  • $582,391 for Associate Professor Doan Ngo to explore the implementation of strategies for early detection and prevention of chemotherapy-induced cardiotoxicity in cancer patients.

With heart disease costing over $7 million annually in Australia, chemotherapy-induced cardiotoxicity is an emerging cause of cardiovascular disease and could add millions to the healthcare budget. With over 400,000 cancer survivors in Australia, cardiovascular disease is now the second leading cause of long term morbidity and mortality due to cardiovascular disease among cancer survivors who have been treated with chemotherapy.

Associate Professor Ngo’s goal is to implement a multidisciplinary approach between cardiology, oncology, pharmacy and pharmacology leading to earlier detection, monitoring and treatment of chemotherapy-induced cardiotoxicity, with a focus on promoting the importance of health checks in an attempt to capture early stages of cardiovascular disease.

  • $577,670 for Dr Adjanie Patabendige to implement Steps Towards Understanding and Preventing Early Neurological Deterioration in Ischaemic Stroke (STUPENDIS).

Ischaemic stroke is caused by a blocked artery, leading to a lack of blood flow and oxygen supply to a specific brain region, resulting in brain cell death. Up to 38 per cent of ischaemic stroke patients present to hospital with mild or rapidly improving symptoms, yet final outcomes are poor, with more than 50 per cent requiring assistance with self-care at three months post stroke. This delayed progression of stroke due to early neurological deterioration within the first 24 hours post-stroke remains a clinically significant, yet unresolved problem.

Dr Patabendige and her team will use advanced medical imaging analysis and a novel non-invasive method to measure the pressure within the skull and investigate the effects of impaired brain fluid dynamics to help future diagnosis, prevention and management of stroke patients at risk of developing early neurological deterioration.

* HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.