Following the prick of a rose thorn, a paper cut, or an infection our bodies start to fight back. And the defence begins with inflammation. That inflamed, tender, red patch we all know as the hallmark of a wound or infection is the result of certain white blood cells summoning the troops and increasing the blood supply to deal with a wound or invasion.
Professor Wolfgang Weninger, head of Centenary’s Immune Imaging program, who leads our work in research, says “understanding inflammation is becoming an important topic across Centenary, helping us understand cardiovascular disease, organ rejection and auto-immune diseases, for example. Another important issue is ageing. Our immune system response changes with age. It’s part of the process of ageing, where the body becomes less and less capable of coping with destructive events.”
The latest NHMRC funding will help Centenary's ground-breaking research, such as in the T-Cell Biology lab, headed by Professor Barbara Fazekas de St Groth.
Centenary scientists have won over $5 million in the latest NHMRC grant round – with seven research grants and three early career fellowships.
The development of a TB vaccine, the genetic regulation of ageing, the fundamental workings of the immune system, the genetic basis of heart disease—these are some of the research areas of key interest to Centenary Institute for which the Australian Government has announced funding through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
Centenary also boasts three new NHMRC Early-Career Fellows along with seven significant research projects in the medical research funding released on Friday.
In 1909, when the old age pension for those over 65 was introduced in Australia, life expectancy was about 55. It is now about 80.
For most of the 20th century, people in their 60s and 70s were expected to be seen with walking sticks. Now, many of them are working out regularly in the gym. And, as populations age, the developed world’s biggest health problems are now degenerative diseases rather than infections.
So perhaps it’s not surprising there has been an upsurge in interest in research into ageing—and the Centenary Institute is taking a major interest in applying its unique skill sets and clinical know-how to the problem. Leading the way will be the Institute’s newest research group leader, Dr Masaomi Kato, who moved to Australia from Yale University earlier this year to establish a Laboratory of Ageing.