Sunday, 05 November 2017 22:40

ANU researchers get $10m to support study into earlier disease detection

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A research project aimed at helping clinicians detect diseases in people much earlier than is currently possible, and better manage their conditions, is to receive up to $10 million as the inaugural winner of The Australian National University Grand Challenge Scheme.

The multidisciplinary project, which ANU says aims to “revolutionise” personalised medicine through wearable sensor technologies such as bracelets, beat several rival research bids as part of the $50 million ANU Grand Challenge Scheme, set up by Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt to help the university solve some of the bigger problems facing the world.

Professor Schmidt congratulated the research team, which involves more than 60 researchers including immunologists, engineers, physicists, chemists and health services experts from across the university.

“This is an outstanding project that will help doctors treat disease earlier and more effectively with precision therapies,” Professor Schmidt said.

“The ANU Grand Challenge Scheme demonstrates just one way that ANU is having impact, bringing experts from across the University together to offer new perspectives on a major challenge confronting society.”

One of the lead researchers, engineer Associate Professor Antonio Tricoli from the Nanotechnology Research Laboratory at the ANU Research School of Engineering, said, “Using nanotechnology and electronics, we are on the verge of developing the next generation of wearable sensors”.

“This is a game changer. People will be able to collect essential information about their health, just by going about their normal daily activities such as brushing their teeth or taking a walk.

“This will enable us to get a holistic picture of their health and understand the development of diseases before they happen, better monitor the ones that exist already and manage them better.”

Co-lead researcher Professor Matthew Cook, an immunologist from the Department of Immunology at The John Curtin School of Medical Research and the ANU Medical School, said diagnosing chronic diseases earlier and treating them more effectively would be enormous progress.

“There’s been tremendous progress in medicine over the past 100 years, but we’re still left with this problem of chronic diseases that require long-term management."

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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