Jim McGinty

Jim McGinty

Attorney General; Minister for Health; Electoral Affairs

    $4.7million boost for WA medical research

    19/04/2005 12:00 AM

    Western Australian scientists working on a cure for blindness are among almost 100 researchers to receive State Government medical research grants totalling $4.7million this year.

    Health Minister Jim McGinty said a $667,000 grant to scientists at the Lions Eye Institute would help support cutting-edge research using gene therapy to cure blindness in people who either inherited the condition or lost their sight through diabetes or ageing.

    Researchers at the institute had successfully reversed blindness in dogs and mice using the technology and were planning to trial the procedure on humans within two years.

    “Scientists at the Lions Eye Institute will be the first in Australia to trial gene therapy on people in an effort to cure blindness,” Mr McGinty said.

    “This is a groundbreaking procedure that could help thousands of Western Australians and potentially millions around the world.

    “Medical research is becoming increasingly expensive but the benefits it can bring are invaluable so it is important that the State Government supports our scientists as best we can.”

    The funding will help the institute pay for support staff as well as the housing, feeding and general upkeep of the laboratory animals and equipment.

    The Minister said 98 of the State’s top medical and health researchers would receive grants from the State Government’s Medical and Health Research Infrastructure Fund.

    The $4.7million worth of grants would help research into treatments for HIV, cancer, blindness, heart disease and childhood illness.

    Other research institutions to receive funding include:
    • the Telethon Institute for Child and Health Research - $1.52million;
    • the University of Western Australia - $1.087million;
    • the Asthma and Allergy Research Institute - $167,363;
    • the Australian Neuromuscular Research Institute - $115,361;
    • Curtin University - $134,613;
    • Edith Cowan University - $54,929;
    • Murdoch University - $76,725;
    • Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital - $37,211;
    • the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research - $715,046; and
    • the Women and Infants Research Foundation - $124,375.
    Mr McGinty said the grants would also enable local researchers to attract more money from competitive national and international funding programs and further enhance WA’s reputation for world-class research.

    “The Medical and Health Research Infrastructure Fund has provided almost $25million in grants to leading researchers since 1997,” the Minister said.

    “Increased funding will help keep the State at the forefront of world scientific research and could lead to medical breakthroughs that will improve the health of all Western Australians.

    “The Gallop Government is committed to improving the quality of services to all Western Australians and these research grants will help scientists improve our heath in the future.”

    Minister's office: 9220 5000