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Cheryl Critchley
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New ways to help victims of intimate partner violence, and reducing the toll of infections on cancer patients are on the agenda for new Centres for Research Excellence (CREs) at the University of Melbourne, funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Federal Health Minister The Hon. Sussan Ley announced a total of $12.5 million for five centres.

The University of Melbourne received a total of nearly $27 million in grants, second only to Sydney University, at a little over $27 million.

University of Melbourne Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Julie Willis, said the CREs tackled pressing societal and health problems. “Melbourne researchers are pioneering world-first research partnerships on some urgent societal and health challenges, which will pay dividends in more rigorous, evidence based social policy and clinical practice in years to come.”

• The Centre for Research Excellence to promote Safer Families — led by Professors Kelsey Hegarty, Stephanie Brown and Cathy Humphreys — will lead research into the health effects of intimate partner violence on individuals and families, and how the health sector can respond. The first of its kind in the world, it will also research the health sector responses needed to improve safety, health and wellbeing. “Many health practitioners have had minimal training and limited experience in identifying partner violence or how to respond if a patient discloses their experience,” Professor Hegarty said.

• The CRE for Improving Cancer Outcomes through Enhanced Infection Services, led by Professor Monica Slavin, will implement best practice models for acute care of infections, like sepsis, which generate enormous economic and health costs.

• The CRE for Disability and Health, led by Professor Anne Kavanagh, will gather evidence to guide social and health policy reform and identify cost-effective policy interventions that will improve the health of working-age Australians with a disability.

• Australians with end-stage osteo-arthritis will benefit from a CRE in Total Joint Replacement Optimising Outcomes , equity, cost effectiveness and patient selection (OPUS). Dedicated to care for patients and bringing down costs and dissatisfaction rates with total joint replacement procedures. It will be led by Professor Peter Choong, who is Head of the University’s Department of Surgery at St Vincent’s Hospital.

A total of 29 University of Melbourne researchers received NHMRC grants for research centres, Early Career Fellowships, Research Fellowships and other grants.