NHMRC success for ACU researchers

Friday, 13 November 2015

Dr-Jocasta-Ball-Mary-MacKillop-Institute-for-Health-Research-NHMRC Dr Jocasta Ball from the Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research.

ACU health researchers have been awarded two prestigious National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) research grants.


Dr Jocasta Ball, Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research, was awarded an Early Career Fellowship for her research Improving health outcomes in atrial fibrillation via optimal management.

Professor Marita McCabe, Director, Lucy Busija, Senior Research Fellow, and Professor Daniel O’Connor, Professorial Fellow, Institute for Health and Ageing, were part of a successful team led by Dr Tania Davison, Monash University, awarded a grant to investigate psychological interventions for adults transitioning into aged care.

Professors McCabe, O’Connor and Dr Busija are Chief Investigators on the project A cluster RCT of a novel psychological intervention to reduce depression among at-risk older adults transitioning to residential aged care.

Dr Ball said her Early Career Fellowship is an acknowledgement of the importance of the MacKillop’s world-class health research into heart disease – one of the leading causes of death and disability in Australia.

“Our research has the potential to improve the health outcomes of patients with atrial fibrillation – the most common irregular heartbeat, closely linked to stroke and heart failure. This Fellowship will allow me to be actively involved in this mission. It will also allow me to continue on my current career trajectory and provide more opportunities to obtain competitive funding.”

Professor McCabe said her program would evaluate an intervention designed to reduce depression and improve quality of life for patients in aged care facilities.

“Depression is common in aged care facilities, with many older adults finding the transition extremely difficult. We have developed a simple intervention to help new residents, including those with dementia, to adjust to life in aged care. Our program focuses on key aspects of psychological wellbeing, and is designed for widespread use in aged care,” she said.

Professor Wayne McKenna, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), warmly congratulated all the researchers on their awards.

“This is a wonderful achievement for our colleagues. It demonstrates the strength of ACU’s research in our key priority area of health and highlights the quality of the researchers currently working at ACU,” he said.

Professor McKenna said that the grants are further evidence that ACU’s new five-year research intensification strategy is beginning to bear fruit.

“Research intensification has been a chance for us to remodel our research environment and culture and focus on supporting outstanding research. This is just the beginning but the future looks bright.”

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