Medical Research Grants
Grant applications for 2013 have closed. Applicants will be informed of the outcome of their application in the first week of February 2013.
Grants will be awarded to successful applicants at the 29th Annual Presentation Dinner to be held on Saturday,23 March 2013.
Welcome to The Rebecca L Cooper Medical Research Foundation
The Rebecca L. Cooper Medical Research Foundation is a private, self-funded medical research body. The charter of the Foundation is to promote medical research throughout Australia by advancing, promoting and encouraging medical research into all fields of the medical sciences, including but not limited to research into physiology, psychology and psychiatry, research into all fields of the biological sciences including research into microbiology, genetics, biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology and such other areas of medical research throughout Australia.
The Foundation meets its obligations by providing annual research grants within an ever widening group of research categories that it decides to support. Currently, these include; Brain Sciences, Diabetes, Geriatrics, Lung Disease (other than cancer), Rheumatology, Vision Sciences and Genetic research.
Business of the Foundation is conducted by a Board of Directors. The board is made up of directors who possess a range of skills and backgrounds.
As the Foundation does not directly conduct medical research, but promotes it through the system of providing annual grants, it requires a cash flow for such funding. This is achieved through the income derived from a large portfolio of properties bequeathed by the Foundation's benefactor, Mrs Rebecca Lillian Cooper.
This portfolio of 109 properties comprises primarily older style terrace houses in the inner Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. The endowment of Mrs Cooper's estate comprised mainly properties in derelict or dilapidated condition. The Foundation works tirelessly in an effort to improve the properties in order to maximise the rental returns and therefore the amount available for medical research grants.
The Foundation has a personal approach towards the granting of research funds and this is appreciated by our recipients, often expressed at our Grants Dinner held in late March each year.
The testimonials below highlight the impact of Foundation funding on the careers of two researchers, and the subsequent advancements achieved in their chosen field of medical research.
Asthma research ~ Prof Phil Hanbro
I was appointed as a junior academic at the University of Newcastle in November 1999. My first tasks were to establish my teaching and develop my own research program in lung diseases. To do this, I needed to secure funding so that I could establish a research platform.
So I applied for many different grants and after many disappointments, I received a real break when in 2002, I was awarded my first research grant of $16,000 and was awarded the 'Leo Dintenfass Plaque' from the Rebecca L. Cooper Medical Research Foundation.
This seeding grant really kick started my research, allowing me to undertake several projects and produce preliminary data. These data were ultimately used in large grant applications and from this, my group grew from strength to strength.
Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to receive several grants from the Rebecca Cooper Foundation, each of which has enabled the commencement of new phases of my research and has allowed my program to mature and diversify.
Indeed, with an investment from the Foundation to date totalling $116,000, made up of research grants and phd scholarships, I have been successful as a primary or co-Chief Investigator in obtaining $3.7 million in project grants and $1.5 million in equipment and infrastructure funding.
This represents a 45-fold magnitude of the initial seed funding and includes 5 NHMRC project and 1 ARC discovery grants. This investment has also translated into the training of younger scientists which to date has resulted in 3 phd and 8 Honours students having graduated from my lab, with another 6 phd and 1 Honours student on the way.
It was most satisfying to see one of my former phd students, Dr Jay Horvat, also get a start from the Foundation with his first grant in 2009. It is very rewarding to see the cycle repeat itself.
We have made excellent progress with the assistance of this funding. My group has made important and novel observations of the pathogenesis of bacterial and viral infections and how they differentially affect the development and exacerbation of asthma.
We showed for the first time, that the age of first infection and the timing of infection relative to allergic sensitisation, play pivotal roles in determining the effects of chlamydial infection on asthma. We also showed that the nature of infection is important and that Chlamydia and Haemophilus infections promote or modify asthma, whereas Streptococcus pneumoniae is protective against asthma.
This identifies new therapeutic opportunities for asthma where we can either target (Chlamydia, Haemophilus) or use (S. Pneumoniae) bacteria for the prevention and treatment of asthma.
We have produced 23 publications in the last 5 years on these studies and several more are under review. Therefore, and most importantly, the seed funding from the Foundation has been invaluable in establishing my research and my group and has translated into significant outcomes for lung disease and human health.
None of these outcomes would have been possible without this initial funding from the Foundation.
I would like to sincerely thank the Foundation and look forward to a very promising future and an increasingly productive relationship with the Rebecca L. Cooper Medical Research Foundation.
Schizophrenia research ~ Prof Brian Dean
In 1987 I moved from the Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology at the Royal Melbourne Hospital to the Mental Health Research Institute. One reason for this move was to begin studies for my PhD.
My chosen area of study was to understand the biochemical changes that were causing the symptoms of schizophrenia. My premise was that schizophrenia, like any other disease, must have an understandable cause and in identifying the cause we would be able to devise improved treatments for the disorder. As my decision to change research direction became known the general view was that I had entered a field of research endeavour that was the graveyard of many research careers.
My initial efforts to raise funds to support my research certainly seemed to confirm the idea that funding biochemical based research into schizophrenia was not high on the agenda of many funding agencies. In 1988 I first became aware of the Rebecca L. Cooper Medical Research Foundation and that they had made schizophrenia a special priority for funding. I immediately prepared an application for equipment funding. To my great pleasure this application was funded and I attended my first ‘Foundation Dinner’ in 1989 and collected a cheque that enabled the purchase of a scintillation counter, a critical piece of laboratory equipment. Up until that funding was available, I had to travel around Melbourne begging any available time on the equipment in other Laboratories.
More importantly, one of the critical steps that a junior researcher makes on the road to an independent career is to raise funding in support of their research. Indeed, this application was the foundation stone to the establishment of my own Laboratory at the Mental Health Research Institute.
This Laboratory subsequently became known as the Rebecca L. Cooper Research Laboratories and has now published over 130 peer reviewed papers and has had successes in raising competitive funding from many funding bodies, including the National Health and Medical Research Council and the National Institutes of Health in the USA.
Two decades later I continue my research into the causes of schizophrenia and I am pleased to say the ‘Foundation’ continues to support such medical research. It is apparent that they still support junior researchers in the beginning of their careers and help them realise their research dreams.