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NDARC success in NHMRC funding

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Date Published:
25 Oct 2011
Contact person:
Marion Downey
02 9385 0180

An innovative study aimed at reducing smoking rates in socioeconomically disadvantaged groups and a landmark study of heroin dependence have been awarded major National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grants.

NDARC was awarded close to $2.9 million for the two projects as well as for a five year research fellowship awarded to Associate Professor Alison Ritter. The funding was announced by the Australian Federal Government this month.

Professor Richard Mattick and colleagues have been awarded $1.9 million to study the impact of financial counselling combined with smoking cessation interventions on reducing smoking among financially stressed individuals.

“Half of current Australian smokers come from the most socio-economically disadvantaged third of the population where people with low incomes, low educational attainment and those subject to financial stress are overrepresented,” said Professor Mattick.

“Although these characteristics are associated with lower smoking cessation rates, there is a lack of evidence-based cessation interventions that target these smokers.”

The study will compare success rates among low income participants recruited through Centrelink who receive subsidised nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and Quitline call-back, to those who receive financial counselling in addition to NRT and Quitline call-back.

Professor Maree Teesson and colleagues have been awarded $362,450 to lead an eleven-year follow up of 615 heroin users first recruited for NDARC’s landmark Australian Treatment Outcomes Study- Heroin (ATOS).

“The study will represent one of the longest follow-ups of heroin users conducted anywhere in the world and will provide essential data on the predictors and risks for poor long-term outcomes including trauma, criminality, physical health and psychopathology,” said Professor Teesson.

NDARC Assistant Director and head of the Drug Policy Modelling Program (DPMP), Associate Professor Alison Ritter, has been awarded a $580,000 Senior Research Fellowship. The five year NHMRC fellowship will support Associate Professor Ritter’s internationally recognised program of research examining how governments can best respond to alcohol and illegal drug use.

“There is a large gulf between the world of alcohol and drug research and the world of policy making,” says Professor Ritter.

“My vision is to reduce this gap through generating new research evidence.”

In other NDARC successes NDARC Assistant Director and Director of the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (NCPIC) Professor Jan Copeland is an investigator on a project led by Professor Alan Clough at James Cook University to investigate cannabis withdrawal symptoms among indigenous male prisoners. Professor Mattick, NDARC Director Professor Michael Farrell and Dr Fiona Shand are investigators on a $1m longitudinal study of chronic pain patients who use opioid analgesics, to be led by Professor Louisa Degenhardt of the Burnet Institute in Melbourne.

Photo credit: Graur Codrin.