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Medical awards brings further research funding success for Monash-Warwick Alliance

The Monash-Warwick Alliance is celebrating a double funding win for two new joint medical studies, one on the use of aspirin to treat leg ulcers and a second on the reporting of back pain.

A team led by Dr Carolina Weller at Monash University working with Professor Martin Underwood at the University of Warwick has been awarded over AU$750,000 by the Australian funding body National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to investigate the role of aspirin in treating venous leg ulcers.

Another smaller project aims to develop a standardised method for the reporting of exercise programmes in clinical trials.

The two new grants come shortly after a further two separate joint Monash-Warwick research projects in the areas of pensions and Italian culture won major awards from both UK and Australian funding bodies.

Both new grants build on initial funding from the Monash-Warwick Alliance which allowed the researchers to lay the groundwork for their collaborations.

Vice-President of the Monash-Warwick Alliance, Professor Andrew Coats said: “To answer the big questions requires multiply skilled teams and this is where the Monash-Warwick Alliance really wins.

“We bring together the best from two systems and this collaboration is paying off by securing large grants form both UK/EU and Australian grant giving agencies.

Leg ulcers are common and the problem is set to grow as the population ages and rising obesity increases rates of metabolic disease. This research project builds on expertise in aspirin in various medical fields within both universities.

Dr Weller said venous leg ulcers (VLU) were a common and costly problem worldwide and the funding from the NHMRC would support further vital research in this area.

“These ulcers are debilitating, painful and exudate heavily which has a considerable impact on patient quality of life and increased health costs,” Dr Weller said. Current best practice treatment is the application of a tight compression bandage.

“The VLU burden is expected to rise with the ageing population, so it is important that we find a low-cost and safe treatment.”

Professor Underwood said that currently there are no well-proven drugs for venous leg ulcers and patients find the tight bandages used to treat them difficult to use.

“Aspirin shows considerable potential as a low-cost and safe treatment that could increase healing rates, decrease ulcer recurrence and make a lasting difference to the quality of life of people with leg ulcers.

“This grant win is a clear result of the Monash-Warwick Alliance funding we received which enabled us to lay the foundation of our research collaboration.”

A second Monash-Warwick Alliance collaboration, between Dr Susan Slade and Professor Rachelle Buchbinder at Monash University and Professor Underwood at Warwick, has received funding from Arthritis Australia’s National Research Program.

The project aims to develop a standardised method for the reporting of exercise programmes in clinical trials and systematic reviews to enable replication in clinical practice.

Currently there is no standardised approach for reporting exercise programmes which makes it difficult to draw conclusions about the effect of the studied exercise programme, make comparisons with other studies, and replicate it in clinical practice.

About the Monash-Warwick Alliance

The Monash-Warwick Alliance offers a new model for research-led institutions to meet the global challenges of the 21st century.

By accelerating the exchange of people, ideas and information and exploiting the opportunities offered by the geography of the two institutions in Europe, Asia-Pacific and Africa, we intend to create a new approach to global higher education.

A key aim of the Alliance is to help meet the increasing student, industry and government demand for universities to produce graduates with a global education, and to undertake research that addresses world-relevant and strategically important problems.

In time, as our vision for globally connected universities is refined and developed, new models of delivery of education and educational services will emerge, challenging traditional concepts of what it means to be a university and enabling new members to become part of the Alliance.