2023 Dunlop Grant Awards Announced

At its May meeting the Foundation Board was pleased to present this year’s Weary Dunlop grants in what was a very competitive field of applications. The 2022 grant recipients are:

Dr Kylie Quinn, Vice Chancellors Research Fellow, School of Health and Biomedical Sciences, RMIT University – Grant Application: Mixed Messages: Mapping Kinase Signaling to Improve Aged Immune Cell Function

Chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapy is a remarkable new therapy for blood cancers that uses a patient’s own activated immune cells. Immune cells from older or heavily treated patients can become difficult to activate, so our project aims to identify precisely what limits activation in these patients.

Dr Natalie Wee, Research Officer and EH Flack Fellow, Department of Bone Cell Biology and Disease Unit. St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research – Grant Application: Identifying mechanisms to increase bone strength

My research program will identify signals within cortical bone (hard outer shell) and the outer layer of bone that could be targeted in the future to strengthen the skeleton and prevent osteoporotic fractures. This will be an important first step towards developing new methods to strengthen the bone at the hip and wrist, common fracture sites in the elderly that are poorly protected by current therapies

Dr Luis Alarcon-Martinez, Head of the Visual Neurovascular Research Unit, Centre for Eye Research Australia – Grant Application: Taking out the trash: Paravascular clearance as a potential new therapeutic target to reduce glaucoma blindness

Our project will focus on glaucoma, the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide and significantly affecting veterans. Notably, we will study the clearance of waste products in the retina, which may lead to sight loss. We expect that our results will improve the treatment and prevention of glaucoma in veterans.

Dr Yi Wang, Senior Research Officer, Department of Molecular Metabolism and Ageing Laboratory / Lipid Metabolism and Cardiometabolic Disease Laboratory, Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute (DIABETES GRANT) – Grant Application: The Role of Trim28 in Neuronal Regulation of Glucose Metabolism

This project will lay the foundations for future studies in which we might treat obesity and diabetes using gene therapy strategies that target the brain. It will improve the wellbeing of veterans and their families through maintaining a healthy body composition and a stable blood sugar level.

Dr Yijun Pan, Research Fellow, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, University of Melbourne (MENTAL HEALTH GRANT) – Grant Application: Identifying biomarkers associated with synaptic learning for the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease

 Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is highly prevalent in veterans, with many cases being directly attributable to military service. We aim to prove the concept that the presence of unique proteins in the blood can be used for early detection of AD, which will enable early intervention and better healthcare for veterans.

Dr Sheila Patel, Senior Research Fellow, Department of Medicine, Austin Health, University of Melbourne – Grant Application: Precision medicine to identify cardiovascular risk in diabetes.

Left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) or an enlarged heart can cause heart failure, heart attacksand strokes. Patients with type 2 diabetes are at very high risk of developing LVH, and that hereditary factors predispose to LVH. We will now assess if genetic testing can identify those at highest risk of an adverse outcome. This approach may allow us to offer known therapies in those at risk to prevent progression to heart failure, heart attack and stroke.

Jeffrey D. Zajac

Chairman, Medical & Scientific Research Committee

“Weary” Dunlop Medical Research Foundation