Congratulations to the recipients of the 2022 Dean's Innovation Grants

The Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences congratulates Dr Garron Dodd, Dr Carmine Onofrillo, Ms Ke Cao, Dr Leanne Teoh and Dr Adam Wheatley, who were awarded this year’s Dean’s Innovation Grants. The Dean’s Innovation Grant program supports the development of innovative projects to a stage where they are well positioned to attract further funding from government, industry or venture capital to support research and development.

Recipients of the 2022 Dean's Innovation Grants holding their certificates alongside Professor Jane Gunn and Professor Peter Choong

(L-R) Professor Jane Gunn, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, Dr Adam Wheatley, Dr Cathal O’Connell (who presented on behalf of Dr Carmine Onofrillo), Dr Leanne Teoh, Ms Ke Cao, Dr Garron Dodd, and Professor Peter Choong, Associate Dean Innovation and Enterprise.

Dr Garron Dodd was awarded $50,000 to develop a novel approach for treating metabolic diseases. There are currently no effective long-term treatments for metabolic diseases, such as diabetes, which affect more than a third of the global population. Garron’s project will develop and evaluate therapeutics designed to target an extracellular matrix that impairs the body’s ability regulate body weight and blood glucose levels – providing much needed therapeutic innovation in the fight against obesity and diabetes.

Dr Carmine Onofrillo was awarded $50,000 to advance a collaborative project using tissue engineering to treat cartilage injuries. Human articular cartilage, which cushions the joints and enables them to move smoothly, cannot self-repair after an injury – potentially leading to chronic diseases such as post-traumatic osteoarthritis. Carmine’s project will develop a new procedure whereby fat tissue from the knee is processed and then implanted into the site of a cartilage injury, enabling regenerative processes that can prevent long-term injury.

Ms Ke Cao was awarded $50,000 to optimise chemotherapy dosing for patients with colorectal cancer. Chemotherapy dosing is currently determined using a crude body surface area calculation. The resulting inaccuracies can lead to inadequate cancer treatment or lethal toxicities for the patient. Ke has developed an automated artificial intelligence algorithm that provides an accurate measure of body composition, which will enable clinicians to accurately predict chemotherapy toxicities and dose accordingly.

Dr Leanne Teoh was awarded $30,000 to further develop a digital clinical decision tool that helps dentists to optimise medication use. Antibiotic resistance poses a serious threat to public health, however roughly four-in-five dental antibiotics remain overprescribed by clinicians. Leanne’s project, Drugs4Dent®, provides dentally relevant drug information to both clinicians and patients that will help reduce the inappropriate prescribing of dental antibiotic medication.

Dr Adam Wheatley was awarded $30,000 to isolate and evaluate the effectiveness of monoclonal antibodies to treat and prevent influenza B infection. While vaccines and anti-viral drugs afford some protection, influenza B still causes a significant burden of morbidity and mortality among the very young and the elderly. The strong safety profile, durability and efficacy of human antibodies in other contexts makes them ideal candidates for further development to help protect the clinically vulnerable during influenza outbreaks.