31 New Health and Medical Research Projects Funded

Posted 12 Mar 2024
Cutting-edge research will lead to new discoveries with the announcement of $750,000 in funding to support health and medical researchers across the Flinders Medical Precinct.

In a partnership between Flinders Foundation and Flinders University, 31 successful projects from the annual Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant Round were announced today, provided with up to $25,000 each in a bid to improve health outcomes and create positive change within our community and across the globe. 

Covering a variety of illnesses, diseases, and social issues, ranging from cancer, Motor Neurone Disease, mental health, sleep and eye health, through to children’s health, cerebral palsy and gestational diabetes, this annual health seed grant round is funded by donations from generous individuals and funds raised by supporters and organisations.

Research projects include:

  • A world-first study analysing patient blood samples to a greater degree than ever before in an effort to detect bowel cancer earlier and at a more treatable stage – ideally before symptoms present. There’s hope this work could lead to development of the first Australian-made blood screening test to detect colorectal cancer (Dr Ganessan Kichenadasse and Geri Laven-Law)
  • Development of easier and faster ways to detect treatment effectiveness in Motor Neurone Disease clinical trials (Dr Xuan Luo)
  • Investigating whether a commercially available, under-mattress sensor device could revolutionise the way Obstructive Sleep Apnea is diagnosed and managed, opening the possibility of helping more people promptly, and freeing up sleep-laboratory waiting lists (Associate Professor Ching Li Chai-Coetzer)
  • World-first research focusing on folic acid in the hopes of tackling rising gestational diabetes rates in Australia (Dr Tanja Jankovic-Karasoulos) 
  • Exploring how artificial intelligence ‘chatbots’ could help prevent and manage chronic health conditions (Dr Candice Oster)
  • Evaluating adolescent health consequences of the mobile phone ban in South Australian secondary schools (Associate Professor Daniel King)
  •  Laying the groundwork for a clinical trial exploring a potential new treatment for macular oedema in inherited retinal disease (Professor Justine Smith)

Flinders Foundation Executive Director, Ross Verschoor, said the grants provide researchers with the time and resources they need to prove their concepts and generate data, playing a vital role in helping them to apply for larger grants from national and international funding bodies.

“Flinders Foundation is proud of its seed grant program and the many bold ideas it’s generated and new discoveries it’s led to over the years to improve lives,” Ross said.

“It has been rewarding to see many seed grant recipients go on to win grants of a much larger scale, including significant grants through the coveted National Health and Medical Research Council (NHRMC) Ideas Grant scheme.

We’re grateful to our supporters and the South Australian community for helping to fund the dedicated researchers at Flinders University and the Southern Adelaide Local Health Network who work tirelessly to improve the lives of people and their families affected by a wide range of illnesses, diseases and social issues.

Flinders University Deputy Vice–Chancellor (Research) Professor Raymond Chan thanked Flinders Foundation’s supporters for their continued commitment to funding new research 

“The support of the Foundation and its generous donors and supporters is vital in helping our talented researchers to work towards saving more lives by detecting early signs of disease and personalising treatments,” Professor Chan said.

With the help of the Foundation, our research continues to deliver new technologies that can help prevent, diagnose and treat ill health for many individuals, as well as ensuring increased efficiencies in our healthcare system.

“This latest funding will build capacity and expertise in healthcare and technologies, bring new innovations to market and enable people to live healthier, better-quality lives.

The 31 projects announced today are in addition to $100,000 for four new cancer research grants recently announced to mark World Cancer Day, focusing on ovarian cancer, multiple myeloma and the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma, as well as patients living with cancer in conjunction with other chronic health conditions.

Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant Round Recipients

Dr Ashleigh Guillaumier

Co-design of a smoking cessation resource for use within Australian lung cancer screening: making the most of a ‘teachable moment’

Dr Ayla Orang

Metformin: A Revolutionary Twist in Targeting Oncogenic RAS Signalling 

Dr Bart Eijkelkamp

Controlling dyslipidaemia and liver function during bacterial sepsis

Dr Candice Oster

Interrogating Large Language Models for chatbots to support health behaviour change for prevention and management of chronic conditions: A proof-of-concept study

Associate Professor Ching Li Chai-Coetzer

A Pilot Study to Evaluate the Utility of an Under-Mattress Sensor and Smart Monitoring System for the Diagnosis and Management of Obstructive Sleep Apnea within Primary Care

Dr Christine Mpundu-Kaambwa

Prioritizing Children's Perspectives: An Exploratory Study on Codesigning a Pictorial Quality of Life Tool (CHU9D) for Children with Cerebral Palsy

Professor Damien Keating

Identifying novel activators of the gut-brain axis to treat mood disorders

Associate Professor Daniel King

Evaluating adolescent health consequences of the SA mobile phone ban in secondary schools

Dr Daniel Thorpe

Paracetamol lowers body temperature and provides pain relief by a novel gut-brain pathway

Dr Duc Phuc Nguyen

A non-contact physiology-based bed sensor system for comprehensive sleep breathing problem detection and management

Dr Feargal Ryan

Does the gut microbiome influence T-cell responses to infant vaccination?

Dr Ganessan Kichenadasse

Hide and seq: Finding new blood biomarkers for early detection of colorectal cancer

Dr Jackie Roseleur

The effect of a cancer diagnosis on chronic disease management and associated health care utilisation and costs in patients with pre-existing chronic conditions

Professor Jamie Craig

Autophagic Flux in Primary Open Angle Glaucoma

Professor Jillian Carr

Assessing the impact of the microbiome on infectivity and shedding, and immune responses to enteric adenovirus in mice

Dr Joanne Murray

Improving acute stroke outcomes in regional South Australia; Implementation of the Screen-Clean-Hydrate bundle of care

 Professor Justine Smith

Exploring how interferon-alpha improves macular oedema in inherited retinal diseases

Associate Professor Luke Grzeskowiak

Using real-world evidence to inform policy and practice related to improving the provision of contraceptives in Australian general practice

Associate Professor Matthew Hong

Androgen receptor expression in bladder cancer

Mr Richard Bright

The Impact of Advanced Glycation End Products in T2DM Patients on Biomaterials Fate: Improving Outcomes via Tailored Surface Property Modification

Professor Richard Woodman

Developing a novel pathway for holistic prescribing in multimorbidity using network analysis

Associate Professor Sam Elliott

Drawn in, damaged, then done with: Talented youth footballers’ mental health and wellbeing on the road to the AFL Draft

Professor Sonja Klebe

Precision immunobiology to improve outcomes and predict susceptibility in mesothelioma

Dr Vincent Wong

Unlocking the epigenetic journey of a growing kidney, one cell at a time

Dr Stephen Blake

Can a COVID-19 vaccine be used to turn immunologically cold cancers hot?

Dr Tamina Levy

The Adherence Counselling Toolkit (ACT now); supporting health professionals to support people with stroke to self-manage

Dr Tanja Jankovic-Karasoulos

Decoding Folic Acid Impact on Gestational Diabetes Risk in Australia

Professor Tom Gordon

proteo-genomic profiling of antibodies in health and disease

Dr Xuan Luo

Next-generation diagnostic device for fast, accurate and multiplexed immunoassays to advance motor neuron disease diagnostics

Dr Yee Lian Chew

What makes a memory? Identifying the molecules that boost memory formation

Associate Professor Yogesh Sharma

The characteristics, outcomes and costs associated with preventable readmissions at Flinders Medical Centre 

Cancer Seed Grants – Previously announced on World Cancer Day

Dr Charlotte Downes

Defining the roles of Desmoglein-2 and its association with poor outcomes in multiple myeloma

Dr Ash Hocking

Predicting immunotherapy response using patient-derived cancer organoid models

Dr Claire Jessup

Targeting PD1 in ovarian cancer

Dr Emma Kemp

Developing optimal models of care to manage multimorbidity in people with cancer: a clinical pathway co-design study


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