Murdoch funding success

November 4, 2010

Murdoch has received $1.8 million in the latest round of Australian Research Council (ARC) funding and almost $1 million from the National Health and Medicine Research Council (NHMRC).

Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor Research and Development, Professor David Doepel said the University received research grants for ten projects.

“This result pays tribute to the skills and expertise of our Murdoch researchers and particularly gratifying is the spread of funded research across the university,” he said.

“Also significant is the fact that all of the projects are engaged with real world issues addressing problems locally, nationally and internationally.”


ARC Discovery Projects – supporting fundamental research by individuals and teams, and expanding Australia's knowledge base and research capability.

  • Dispersal and persistence of large-seeded forest species under global environmental change

Researcher: Professor Neal Enright

Funding: $420,000 over 3 years

Summary: This project investigates how decline of a key seed disperser, the emu, due to global environmental change (fragmentation, fire regime change, human population growth, climate change) affects the persistence and migration potential of endemic South-West Australian forest plant species. Results will inform approaches to ecosystem management and conservation.

  • Securitisation and the governance of non-traditional security in Southeast Asia and the Southwest Pacific

Murdoch researcher: Dr Shahar Hameiri

Funding: $305,000 over 3 years

Summary: In recent years, the Australian government has become concerned with managing non-traditional security threats such as terrorism and pandemics in Australia's region. This project compares responses to terrorism and health scares in South-East Asia and the Southwest Pacific to explain the processes shaping the way security is understood and governed.

Dr Hameiri has also been successful in receiving an ARC Australian Postdoctoral Fellowship.  The Fellowships are awarded to early-career researchers who are at the top of their field and also based on research opportunity, performance and the excellence of the research project.

  • Pathways to social cohesion and social change: opinion-based groups and the dynamic formation of identities

Murdoch Researcher: Professor Craig McGarty

Funding: $136, 673 over 3 years

Summary: This project will update the understanding of political conflict by exploring groups based around shared opinions. It will show that groups are likely to be more successful in their political campaigns when they tie their causes to national and other positive identities.

ARC Linkage projects – encourage and develop long-term strategic research alliances between higher education organisation and industry in order to apply advanced knowledge to problems to obtain economic and social benefits.

  • Getting a job: vocationalism, identity formation and schooling in communities at disadvantage

Researcher: Professor Barry Down

Funding: $198,000 over 3 years

Summary: This research will use young people's stories to investigate the barriers and obstacles to getting a job, and from their vantage point, identify the educational, policy and practice contexts that need to be created and more widely sustained in order to assist their career aspirations and life chances.

  • Immunonutrition: A novel concept to overcome gastrointestinal tract mucosal damage after weaning pigs

Researcher: Professor John Pluske

Funding: $290,000 over 3 years

Summary: A sustainable Australian pork industry relies on further reductions in costs whilst considering the enhanced health and welfare of pigs. This project will lead to more precise estimates of amino acid requirements in the post-weaning period, which will contribute to an increased efficiency of nutrient utilization and enhance the welfare of pigs recovering from the weaning process.

  • Southeast Asia's global economy, climate and the impact of natural hazards from the 10th to 21st centuries

Researcher: Professor James Warren

Funding: $400,275 over 3 years

Summary: This project's scope is uniquely broad and multidisciplinary, comprising collaborations between historians, archaeologists, seismologists and others. The aim is to analyse the development of South-East Asia's vast and sophisticated economic system within the context of human-environment interactions, over a scale and time period which has been inadequately investigated.

  • Young people and arts practice: impact, evaluation, and the third space. Identifying a better way forward

Researcher: Dr Peter Wright

Funding: $69,971 over 2 years

Summary: This research reveals effective ways of developing young people's creative responses to unknown futures in fragile communities. Through this project, the impact and conditions enabling these responses will be better understood, strengthening enablers and minimising constraints on this work. This will allow for generation of a replicable model, effective evaluative tools and mapping diversity of creative practices.

NHMRC projects – support individuals and small teams of researchers undertaking biomedical, clinical, public health or health services research in Australian universities, medical schools, hospitals or other research institutions.

  • Statistical issues in the analysis of host-viral genetic associations

Researcher: Professor Ian James

Funding: $244,208 over 3 years

Summary: Viruses such as HIV or Hepatitis B or C may escape detection, and hence control, by the human host immune system through strategic mutations. This project aims to develop statistical methodologies which will facilitate determination of the locations of these strategic mutations and assess the relative impact of different human-host genetic characteristics. Application of the results should benefit the design of tailored vaccines and studies of drug resistance.

  • The influence of HIV on T cell function and application to vaccine design

Researcher: Dr Mina John

Funding: $413,128.80 over 3 years

Summary: Development of a safe, effective vaccine remains the only viable means of abating the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) pandemic in the long term. Scientists must develop a vaccine that could protect against many diverse HIV strains worldwide. This research aims to understand the ways in which HIV mutates to avoid human immune responses in order to determine how best to design a vaccine. The findings could be applied to other infectious diseases for which vaccines are also needed.

  • Characterisation of T-cell Responses in Drug Hypersensitivity

Researcher: Professor Elizabeth Phillips

Funding: $298,638 over 3 years

Summary: Drug hypersensitivity reactions (DIHS) are a catastrophic form of adverse drug reaction. This study will use the drug abacavir, a cause of drug hypersensitivity to examine the way certain immune cells react and determine whether responses to viruses that are persistent in our bodies play a role in the development of these reactions. This will help inform the immunological basis of DIHS as well as new treatments and potential ways of identifying drugs likely to cause these reactions in the pre-marketing phase of drug development.

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