A new milestone for asthma research in Australia

  • The Asthma Australia Research Program is the country’s only fund dedicated exclusively to asthma research
  • New strategy launched to guide funding applications to align with Asthma Australia’s vision
  • A high caliber Research Advisory Committee has been convened
  • Grants worth $450k have been advertised

Asthma Australia has today launched a national research strategy that will transform research dollars into real-life breakthroughs for people living with asthma.

Asthma is a life-long respiratory condition that affects one in nine people, making it one of the nation’s most common chronic diseases.

The impact of asthma costs $28 billion per year and could increase with new challenges brought on by climate change and other existential social issues effecting respiratory and public health.

The Asthma Australia Research Program is the country’s only research program exclusively dedicated to tackling the challenges facing people with asthma.

The research strategy will aim to lift a 20-year holding pattern when it comes to asthma mortality and hospitalisation rates, as well as the burden on people’s lives, something that has not improved despite advancements in medication and technology.

For this reason, the strategy places an emphasis on the person and will look at investing in new ways of investigating in both translational and classic research projects including experimental social science.

Asthma Australia’s new high-profile Research Advisory Committee will oversee the implementation of the new research strategy and assess applicants for funding.

The committee is chaired by Professor Adam Jaffe, a John Beveridge Professor of Paediatrics and Head of the School of Women’s and Children’s Health, Faculty of Medicine at UNSW, Sydney. He is also a Paediatric Respiratory Consultant at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick (since 2006).

Committee members comprise some of the leading minds in respiratory medicine in Australia as well as consumers affected by asthma and include (see full bios here):

Professor Shyamali Dharmage; Professor Phil Hansbro; Professor Lisa Wood; Associate Professor John Blakey; Professor Sotiris Vardoulakis; Professor Sharyn Rundle-Thiele; Dr. Gabrille McCallum; Helen Murray; Kate Garvey; and Judith Wettenhall. 

The program announced successful research applications and advertised the following (see more in media kit):

  • A/Prof Paul Robinson – ‘Forced Oscillation Technique to monitor unstable asthma in children’ ($50k one year) Children’s Hospital at Westmead and The Woolcock Medical Research Institute.
  • Dr Nusrat Homaira – ‘Integrated package of community care after discharge from ED for kids with asthma’ ($100k two years), University of New South Wales and Sydney Children’s Hospital

Further grants opportunities available include:

  • Ray O’Donnell Belgrave Lions asthma research fund $300,000
  • The Peter van Asperen Career Development Grants, three recipients to be awarded two thousand dollars starting 2021 (see more in media kit)

There is specific investment allocated to early career researchers to help ensure a succession plan for the brightest minds to pursue a career in respiratory health.

Researchers are encouraged to register to receive Asthma Australia’s research newsletter for upcoming funding opportunities at www.asthma.org.au/research

Quotes to be attributed to

Asthma Australia CEO Michele Goldman

“The importance of research is paramount in improving the lives of people with asthma, a condition that’s been in a holding pattern for the last 20 years. The new research strategy aligns our research investment to our vision for all Australians with asthma, to live freely from the constraints of their condition. The impact of asthma runs deep in our community. We need to embrace new ways of thinking which is why we’ve developed a diverse program which will attract divergent thinkers.” 

Research Advisory Council Chair Professor Adam Jaffe 

“Our aim is to build capacity in asthma research by investing in early career scientists and supporting our established scientists. Through new models of care we will help those most vulnerable from asthma to ensure equitable access to treatment and reduced hospitalisations. We hope to develop new treatments to better prevent, manage and ultimately cure asthma through discovery science. With increased funding, we will support more projects that deliver tangible outcomes for people with asthma.”

Asthma Australia Chairman of the Board James Wright:

“The relaunch of the research program in 2020, after a year of hardship for people with asthma, will deliver some hope that progress will be made in reducing the widespread impacts of this very common condition. Research is a critical part of our work and contributes greatly to informing improvements in policy and practice. We look forward to working in collaboration with researchers, governments, philanthropists and partners to more effectively tackle this issue.”