Collaboration in fight against infectious disease

Professor Mark von Itzstein & Professor Michael Jennings from the Institute for Glycomics

Griffith researchers received a boost today with a funding grant of more than $8m from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

The funding will go to Griffith’s Institute for Glycomics for ‘Proteins and glycans in host-pathogen interactions: targets for novel drugs and vaccines’. The work brings together a team of researchers from Griffith, the University of Adelaide and the University of Queensland. The grant awardees from the Institute, Professors’ Michael Jennings and Mark von Itzstein, said they were delighted with this announcement and recognition of their work.

“Infectious diseases remain a serious threat to human health, accounting for more than 10 million deaths each year. Our research into how microorganisms cause disease could pave the way to improved vaccines and drugs. This would have a significant global impact,” said co-chief investigator Professor Michael Jennings from the Institute for Glycomics.

“The team has worked together for several years and this five year funding provides the security to invest in and develop new ideas of major global importance,” said Professor Jennings.

Professor Mark von Itzstein, Director of the Institute for Glycomics and co-chief Investigator, said this multi-disciplinary research represents a significant step forward in the global fight against infectious disease.

“The world is ill-prepared to tackle existing and emerging viruses due to the lack of available drugs and vaccines,” he said.

“We know going into the 21st century that coming up with anti-infective drugs whether it’s fighting viruses, bacteria or parasites presents humanity with a major issue.

“The end game is to have a number of drugs available that can tackle these viruses.”

Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Ned Pankhurst, congratulated the recipients saying the outstanding funding success recognised both the calibre of our researchers and their work and the breadth of their research collaborations, in what is an increasingly challenging funding environment.

“This new funding will allow our researchers to further their work that has major societal benefits, including tackling global health challenges” he said.