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by Yvette Cox

Just one of the millions of preterm babies born around the world

Every year 15 million babies are born preterm. Over one million children die each year due to complications of preterm birth. Researchers at the Ritchie Centre in Melbourne, are now working to better understand the causes and how best to treat preterm infants.

A new report by the World Health Organization lists a number of possible causes of preterm birth. One of these causes is infection and inflammation during pregnancy.

A recent study published by PhD student Jacqueline Melville used a sheep model of inflammation in the uterus to look at the resulting changes to the fetal immune system. She found changes in proportions of different cells within the fetal thymus.


by Yvette Cox

Australian medical researchers  breathed a sigh of relief as the Federal Government maintained the funding to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in last week’s budget.

While many are grateful for the continued funding there are also calls for the government to do more to support researchers in Australia.

The federal government has allocated $760.5 million to the NHMRC’s Medical Research Endowment Account for 2012-13. This is comparable to the $746.1 million allocated in the 2011-12 budget once inflation is taken into account.

These amounts of money may seem quite large, however for every research project that is funded by the NHMRC two more cannot receive funding despite being considered ‘worthy of funding’ by expert panels.

Medical research funding came to the attention of the general public last year when, just before the budget, it was leaked that the government was considering a $400 million cut to the funding of the NHMRC.

Vocal protests ensued led by the ‘Discoveries Need Dollars: Protect Medical Research’ campaign. The campaign gained widespread attention and resulted in the government committing to support medical research. The government also announced the independent McKeon Review into the health and medical research sector.

A year on and Ms Penny Fannin – creator of the Discoveries Need Dollars campaign -was relieved to hear that medical research had survived a tough budget.