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More Funding Success for The George Institute

Media release: 
06/12/2017

The George Institute for Global Health has been awarded AUD$4 million in the latest round of project funding announced by Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). The announcement follows the landmark award of a AUD$24 million NHMRC programme grant to The George Institute, to undertake research to prevent and treat cardiometabolic diseases.

Among the projects the grants will support is an investigation of sex disparities in the management of heart attacks. A team led by Professor Mark Woodward of The George Institute and Professor Louisa Jorm of the University of New South Wales will look at why women in New South Wales are 50% more likely than men to die within a year of experiencing a heart attack, and whether this varies across age groups, social class and indigenous status.

Dr Sanne Peters, Research Fellow in Epidemiology at The George Institute for Global Health at the University of Oxford, will be benchmarking the results against similar studies being undertaken in the UK and the US. The findings of the study will be used to inform appropriate, sex-specific coronary care pathways.

Professor Terry Dwyer, Executive Director of The George Institute for Global Health at the University of Oxford, said: “Recent work by The George Institute provided evidence that women with heart disease in Europe, Asia and the Middle East have poorer risk factor management and control than their male counterparts.

“Better medical treatment following a heart attack is also urgently needed, as outcomes for women after a heart attack appear to be worse than they are for men. We are very proud that our researchers here in the UK are playing such a key role in this study. We hope that the findings can be used to improve future treatment guidelines to reduce the female disadvantage and lengthen the lives of millions of women.”

The NHMRC grants will also be used to drive research investigating the high rates of falls in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They will support a research into the safety of new drugs to prevent the onset of stroke in people with chronic kidney disease; and a trial to identify gaps between clinical guideline recommendations and chronic disease treatment.

The funding for The George Institute was announced alongside 732 health and medical research grants from the NHMRC totalling $640 million. Below is a full list of the grants to The George Institute:

Professor Mark Woodward - Sex disparities in management of myocardial infarction

Women in New South Wales (NSW) are 50% more likely to die within a year of experiencing a heart attack than are men. Why should this female disadvantage exist? Women live longer, so one factor could be their older age at the time of a heart attack. However, recent work by The George Institute shows that women with heart disease in Europe, Asia and the Middle East have poorer risk factor management and control than their male counterparts. Could the same be true in NSW? If so, is the reason due to a sex imbalance in medical treatment or to relative lack of health literacy and self-care in New South Welshwomen?

A team of researchers led by Professor Mark Woodward of The George Institute and Professor Louisa Jorm of UNSW Sydney will be harvesting Big Data (electronic health records from hospitals and other sources) in NSW to investigate sex differences in care and health outcomes following a heart attack. Results will be benchmarked against similar data from the UK and US. Through advocacy with women’s organisations and cardiovascular interest groups, we plan to use our findings to help improve treatment guidelines and lengthen lifetimes.

Professor Martin Gallagher - Kidney function and the effectiveness and safety of direct oral anticoagulants in atrial fibrillation: the KODIAK-AF study

The direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) are a relatively new type of drug that are used to prevent the onset of stroke among patients with atrial fibrillation (AF). While these drugs have been demonstrated to be safe and effective among AF patients, in those AF patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), there is uncertainty as to whether these drugs are similarly safe. This program of research will study the safety profile of DOACs in patients with AF and CKD.

Professor Rebecca Ivers - Preventing falls in older Aboriginal people: the Ironbark trial (insert link to longer story)

The Ironbark Program is a community-based program involving facilitated discussion combined with balance and strength training. The program has been developed with strong Aboriginal community oversight and pilot work has demonstrated high acceptability and feasibility as well as demonstrating statistically significant gains in balance and strength.

Our collaborative team of falls researchers, Aboriginal health researchers and Aboriginal community members propose a cluster randomised controlled trial to establish the impact of this program on falls and function when delivered to groups of older people. The trial, implemented with strong Aboriginal oversight and responding to Aboriginal community priorities, will involve 60 groups of older people, recruited from Aboriginal community organisations and Aboriginal Medical Services (estimated average group size of 10; total n = 600). Our multidisciplinary research team brings together a wealth of expertise in Aboriginal health, fall prevention, health economics, qualitative methods, clinical trials and biostatistics. The results of this trial will be directly relevant for practice as the program is designed to be scaled up to impact older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia.

Scholarship: Amy Kang - Implementing Innovative Trial Methodologies for Chronic Disease

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) and diabetes are global public health problems that continue to grow in size, with an estimated global prevalence of 12% and 2.8% respectively.  Our research (the EXTEND45 trial) will expand upon the 45 and Up Study that recruited 250,000 NSW residents 45 years and older and asked them a range of questions relating to their health, lifestyle, and family/social support. The study provided researchers with a unique canvas on which to examine healthy ageing and chronic diseases at a population level. The EXTEND45 study will use the original dataset to identify gaps between clinical guideline recommendations and received care in NSW and create a registry-based trial to close identified treatment gaps and improve the health of people with chronic disease.