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Image: Burnet Deputy Director and project Chief Investigator Professor Margaret Hellard AM

Burnet Institute research into achieving the final phases of hepatitis C elimination in Australia is being supported by funding valued at  AUD$5 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Burnet researchers and collaborators will use the Synergy Grant to identify new and innovative approaches to engage the estimated 70,000 Australians living with Hepatitis C virus (HCV) to receive care.

Progress towards achieving the World Health Organization elimination targets of 80 per cent diagnosed and 80 per cent cured by 2030 has slowed, and without new approaches Australia will fail to meet the targets.

Led by Professor Margaret Hellard AM, the work will use a multidisciplinary approach to identify new models of care for HCV that are effective, acceptable, cost-effective, sustainable and easily able to be scaled up, in order to increase testing and treatment in key populations. 

"Existing clinical services are failing to engage and retain people living with hepatitis in care. This Synergy Grant is focused on innovative approaches to engage this final group of people to get treated," she said. 

"Key to this work is the provision of simplified one-stop shop models of care, with services provided by nurses and peers whenever possible."

"This work is critically important if Australia is to achieve the 2030 target of eliminating hepatitis C as a public health threat."

The Australian Government is providing a total of $50 million in NHMRC funding, across ten teams of researchers to address a range of health problems.

NHMRC CEO Professor Steve Wesselingh said the Synergy Grant scheme fostered collaboration between researchers to ensure a range of skills and perspectives were brought to the research problem.

"The Synergy Grant scheme is specifically designed to support diverse teams, which are essential to tackling complex research questions and improving human health," he said.  

"These grants offer opportunities to foster collaboration between diverse researchers to ensure a range of skills and perspectives are brought to the research problem."

Chief investigators include Professor Mark Stoové (Burnet Institute); Professor Alexander Thompson (St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne); Associate Professor Kari Lancaster (University of New South Wales); Dr Alisa Pedrana (Burnet Institute); Dr Nick Scott (Burnet Institute); Associate Professor Joseph Doyle (Monash University); Troy Combo (University of Queensland/Burnet Institute); Dr Rebecca Winter (Burnet Institute); and Dr Tim Spelman (Burnet Institute).