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HomeNewsResearchers secure highly competitive national funding

Researchers secure highly competitive national funding

Two of the district’s leading researchers will drive key Australian projects following a funding announcement from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). 

More than $1.4 million from the partnership grant program will go to Kolling researcher and RNSH interventional cardiologist Professor Gemma Figtree and her team for a study to reduce coronary artery disease. The world-first project will receive an additional $2 million from industry and health partners. 

Gemma and her team will assess a new way to identify the risk of coronary artery disease - the most common form of heart disease which can lead to heart attacks.  

Gemma said the current assessment is based on the well-documented risk factors of smoking, hypertension, diabetes and high blood cholesterol. 

However, between 15 and 30 per cent of people who experience a heart attack don’t have these traditional risk factors, so a new early detection test, called a polygenic risk score has been developed.

“As part of our research, we will be providing some robust data to measure the effectiveness of this new test using genetic markers to predict heart health,” she said.

“If it proves effective, we anticipate the new early warning test will directly inform clinical guidelines and government policy.

“It will help us identify those at risk of coronary artery disease so they can receive preventative treatment, similar to that received by those with the traditional risk factors.

We anticipate this approach will reduce heart attacks and prevent deaths.
Professor Gemma Figtree

An NHMRC partnership grant of $1.5 million will also go towards a study to improve the safety and quality of emergency nursing care. More than $3.6 million will be granted in total.

The NSLHD’s Nursing and Midwifery Director of Research Professor Margaret Fry will help lead the national project, examining a standardised assessment and management approach for all emergency care nurses.

Margaret said the evidenced-based system is needed with more than eight million people attending Australia’s 287 emergency departments each year.

“Emergency nurses are the first and sometimes only clinicians that patients see, so the quality of this initial assessment and ongoing treatment is vital. Patient safety is contingent on accurate assessment, intervention and escalation,” she said. 

“There is currently no standardised way that Australia’s 29,000 emergency nurses are taught to assess and manage their patients, so the research will examine the HIRAID system, a validated framework developed by the research team.

“More than 30 NSW, Victorian and Queensland hospitals will be involved in the trial over the next five years, and if this approach proves effective, it’s likely to be adopted not only in Australia but internationally as well, across Fiji, Sri Lanka and Nepal. 

“We are anticipating a positive response, and expect the training will lead to a 20 per cent reduction in inpatient deterioration events and an increase in patients reporting a good ED experience.”

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