Photo from left to right: Professor Steve Davis, Professor Robyn Guymer, Professor  Billie Giles-Corti and Associate Professor Bruce Campbell. Image: Irene Dowdy. 

Top NHMRC research recognised

At a gala event in Canberra in July, the National Health and Medical Research Council awarded Research Excellence awards to Australia’s top ranked scientists and clinicians.

The winners were assessed by their peers as meeting the highest national and international standards for their research. They represent the top 17 applicants from over 6,000 funding applications NHMRC received in 2015.

The top ranked application in the Program Grant scheme went to the Saving brain and changing practice in stroke project led by University of Melbourne Professor Steve Davis, Director of the Melbourne Brain Centre and Neurology at the Royal Melbourne Hospital , and collaborators Associate Professor Bruce Campbell, Professors Geoffrey Donnan, Graham Hankey, Mark Parsons and Christopher Levi. Professor Davis’ team will test new and current stroke treatments in a pre-hospital setting, use advanced brain imaging to assess their efficacy, study brain recovery and develop best practice strategies to triage and treat patients.

“Together with my colleagues, we are determined to tackle the issue of how we can treat stroke faster and increase the uptake of available stroke treatments in urban and rural Australia,” Professor Davis said.

In addition to the above accolade, University of Melbourne researcher and neurologist Associate Professor Bruce Campbell scored the highest ranked Career Development Fellowship – Clinical, Level 1.
His NHMRC research aims to improve the effectiveness of clot busting drugs in stroke patients and reduce treatment delays by reconfiguring emergency services so that stroke patients are delivered to the most appropriate centre capable of treating their type of stroke.

Australia's first stroke ambulance

Stroke is a major health issue – there is only one therapy. Stroke kills 1 in 10 people around the world and is the main cause of adult disability in Australia. 80% of strokes are due to a blocked artery in the brain. 20% are caused by a rupture leading to intracerebral haemorrhage.

These two stroke subtypes can only be distinguished with brain imaging. There is one effective therapy for a blocked artery - thrombolysis - but this would be fatal if given to a patient with a haemorrhage. Therefore, a brain scan is needed before treatment and usually done in an emergency department of a hospital.

Time is of the essence. Thrombolysis is a highly time-critical therapy because brain cells quickly die if deprived of oxygen-rich blood. Thrombolysis can only save the brain from permanent damage if given early and loses its efficacy if given late after onset. Every 15 minutes lost results in
loss of a month of healthy life for the average patient.

The Royal Melbourne Hospital plans to build Australia’s first stroke ambulance. The MSU (Mobile Stroke Unit) will be manned by a paramedic, radiographer and stroke nurse. If a stroke is suspected, the ambulance dispatch centre will send both an ambulance and MSU to the patient. The patient will have a brain scan in the MSU. A neurologist will examine the patient and the scans via telemed, and decide on the therapy. If the patient is eligible, thrombolysis will be administered in the MSU. When a stroke is not confirmed, the the patient will be transported in the standard ambulance.

Introducing the STENTRODE!

The RMH Neuroscience Foundation is part of this groundbreaking research project! 

Warren Haynes Fellow, Dr Thomas Oxley and Trustee, Prof Terence O’Brien are part of a team that have had their work published in Nature Biotechnology. 

The project is revolutionary and has been picked up by media all over the world!

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