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Burnet Institute research projects aimed at reducing the burden of hepatitis B, and reducing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among gay and bisexual men in Australia will be supported by newly announced Investigator Grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Burnet Senior Research Fellow, Associate Professor Jessica Howell has been awarded AUD$1.3 million for her project entitled END-B: Using novel diagnostics, new models of care and economic modelling to achieve hepatitis B elimination and reduce liver cancer deaths.

“Hepatitis B infection is a major global killer: without treatment, two people die every minute from hepatitis B-related liver failure and liver cancer,” Associate Professor Howell said.   

“Globally, hepatitis B testing and treatment rates are very low. My research program END-B uses novel diagnostic tools, cutting-edge data analytics and economic modelling to develop new simplified models of hepatitis B care.

“My work will increase hepatitis B testing, linkage to care and treatment uptake to reduce deaths in Australia and globally.”

Funding valued at AUD$662,000 will assist Burnet Research Officer Dr Michael Traeger to build his research program over the next five years and address the growing problem of increasing STIs in Australia and globally, through close collaboration with Burnet researchers, other research institutes, and community organisations.

“Globally, gay and bisexual men carry a high burden of sexually transmitted infections (STIs),” Dr Traeger said. 

"My research will aim to improve Australia’s ability to monitor STIs in the era of HIV biomedical prevention, develop new insights into how STIs and antimicrobial resistance spread through sexual networks, and generate evidence for the development of interventions to prevent STIs among key populations."

"I’m very excited to receive this grant to progress my research and continue to work with incredible colleagues at Burnet, who have supported and mentored me through my PhD."

In all, the NHMRC is providing AUD$379 million to support 216 emerging and established leaders in health and medical research with 2023 Investigator Grants, the Council's largest funding scheme.