WANMA program to award $5 million for emerging medical researchers

WANMA

The WA Near-miss Awards (WANMA) program will award $5 million to emerging Western Australian medical and health researchers, who narrowly missed out on recent NHMRC grants. 

This will help the researchers achieve a competitive advantage, paving the way for further funding. 

The WANMA program is funded by the Western Australian government’s Future Health Research and Innovation (FHRI) Fund, which provides a secure source of funding to drive health and medical research, innovation and commercialisation. 

Forty-one researchers have received 2021 WANMA grants, each to the value of $74,000, to assist the recipients to enhance their application for resubmission to a future NHMRC selection round. 

In addition, the four top-ranked NHMRC Investigator Grants near-miss applicants have been awarded Emerging Leaders Fellowships worth a combined maximum of nearly $2 million. 

The Emerging Leaders Fellowships funding will allow the recipients to conduct the research they proposed to the NHMRC, while also reapplying for further support. 

“The McGowan government’s Future Health Research and Innovation Fund is providing a strategic funding injection that will set our emerging research leaders on a stable, self-sustaining career pathway,” Health and Medical Research minister Roger Cook said. 

“In the long-term, it is anticipated that the researchers being supported will contribute to finding new ways to keep people healthy and cure disease, and to establishing WA as a leader in health and medical research. 

“It is extremely exciting to have such talented researchers here in Western Australia and the McGowan government is committed to supporting them to realise their full potential.” 

Dr Chris Brennan-Jones, from the Wesfarmers Centre for Vaccines and Infectious Diseases at the Telethon Kids Institute, received an Emerging Leaders Fellowship to enable Aboriginal children to access the earliest and most effective interventions for otitis media. This is a common middle ear infection that is the leading cause of preventable hearing loss in this group. 

The Closing the Gap Roadmap for Hearing Health recognises that hearing loss in Aboriginal children can lead to delayed speech and educational development, with substantial long-term consequences. 

Brennan-Jones’ research aims to create lasting change in the way the health system provides services, leading to better health and educational outcomes for these children. 

The research will build on the Aboriginal ear health cohorts and telehealth programs Brennan-Jones established during his NHMRC Early Career Fellowship. It will enable clinical trials of international significance, examining both existing and novel interventions to treat otitis media and prevent hearing loss. 

The research will be guided by a 12-member Aboriginal Community Advisory Group to ensure cultural governance and enable significant capacity building for Aboriginal researchers. 

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