24 July 2020

Seven cutting-edge NSW research projects have been awarded almost $15 million in NSW Government grants to improve the health of people with spinal cord injuries (SCI).

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Minister for Health and Medical Research Brad Hazzard today announced the grants at the opening of the Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) Spinal Cord Injury Research Centre at Randwick where three of the projects will be carried out.

“The investment of close to $15 million over four years was a centrepiece of our last Budget and it’s exciting to see the range of research projects now underway,” Mr Perrottet said.

“This is about improving the health and wellbeing of people with spinal cord injuries, and these projects could help people not just in NSW but right around the world.”

Minister Hazzard said every one of the innovative projects holds tremendous promise to improve treatment for people living with spinal cord injuries, giving back muscle function, sense of touch and other abilities that most of us take for granted.

“A spinal injury brings very substantial life challenges, but advances in research now mean survivors can have a better quality of life – and even the hope of a cure,” Mr Hazzard said.

“These projects have great scope, from investigating ways to restore touch sensation through immersive virtual reality through to using electrical stimulation to improve breathing for people affected by the most severe form of paralysis.”

The following grant recipients will conduct their research at the new NeuRA centre:

  • Associate Professor Sylvia Gustin, The University of NSW, Neuroscience Research Australia – received $2.5 million for her research project on using virtual reality training to restore touch sensation;
  • Professor Jane Butler – Neuroscience Research Australia, The University of NSW, received $1.5 million to develop a treatment to restore voluntary function after spinal cord injury; and
  • Dr Euan McCaughey, Neuroscience Research Australia, The University of NSW, received $2.4 million for his research into using muscle stimulation to improve respiratory function for people with tetraplegia.

The projects have been awarded through the NSW Government’s Spinal Cord Injury Research Grants program, launched in November 2019, with guidance from an advisory committee of spinal cord injury experts.

NeuRA CEO, Professor Peter Schofield, said the range and scope of the funded research projects held exciting promise for health related outcomes.

“Neuroscience Research Australia is at the forefront of spinal cord injury research in Australia. Our new Spinal Cord Injury Research Centre and these research projects will dramatically improve Australia’s understanding of how to best treat people with these life-long injuries,” Professor Schofield said.

“NeuRA thanks the NSW Government for funding the Spinal Cord Injury Research Grants Program, and SpinalCure Australia for its tireless efforts in campaigning for more research funding to improve the quality of life for people with a spinal cord injury.”

Information on grant recipients and their research projects is available on the OHMR Funded Research Directory​​.​​​