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Australia does well in world academic rankings but the success rate for researchers applying for grants is only about 20%, writes Louise Williams.
The research sector is unsustainable, it is difficult to start a research career and when you are in there is a high probability that funding will dry up.
Professor Brett Kirk is one of the lucky ones. The associate deputy vice-chancellor, research at Curtin University is part of a team that has received an $840,000 Australian Research Council (ARC) grant over five years
This has been topped up with $667,000 of partner cash funding – to explore bioengineered bioscaffolds for Achilles tendinopathy treatment.
Researchers from the universities of Western Australia, Curtin, Griffith and Auckland, and staff at Orthocell, Sir Charles Gardener Hospital and Uniservices in Auckland, are all working on the project.
“Tendinopathy is a painful tendon as a result of overuse,” Kirk says. “Achilles tendinopathies, are often the most disabling tendinopathies because they prevent normal walking, representing a substantial burden to quality of life and the Australian economy.
“A significant contributor to the high costs associated with Achilles tendinopathy is the high rate of further surgery due to poor surgical healing. To improve surgical outcomes this project will develop new understanding of normal tendon behaviour (captured by predictive computational models), develop novel bioreactor tissue from cell-seeded bioscaffolds, and using the computational model and bioreactor tissue, investigate new surgical methods for tendinopathy treatment.”
Kirk says that the submission was pulled together very quickly. “We actually put the proposal together in a very short period of time – a couple of months.”
“There was a six-month time frame between the submission and the awarding of the grant. It is great that we are able to undertake this study as it will benefit many and we will discover new things along the way.”
But despite billions of dollars of federal government funding being poured into university research it seems that the money can’t keep up with the amount of academics applying for grants.
If the hard hat fits
Forget the stereotypes. Women are an increasing force in the university engineering ranks across Australia.
Schoolgirls get hands-on experience
You have to break things to find out how they are built, the manager of safer roads performance at Transport NSW, Delilah Marta, told a group of teenagers at the annual Women in Engineering Summit at the University of Wollongong.
Innovate or deteriorate
If we are to improve our reputation for innovation, universities must be more aware of the business approach to marketing and development.