ANZCA Foundation update - June 2024

12 June 2024

In this update: World first techniques lead to discoveries in CRPS study, foundation cocktail event, growing our named research awards, environment and sustainability, multi-centre clinical trials.

Growing our donor-funded ‘Named Research Awards’

Since 2014, the foundation has created 12 new donor-funded annual named awards, grants, and scholarships. We bestow our named awards in person at foundation events each year, including at the Foundation Cocktail Reception at the 2024 ANZCA Annual Scientific Meeting in Brisbane saw our best ever attendance from over 180 registrations, and much positive feedback.
In 2023, our newest Governor Patron Dr Stanley Tay reached $100,000 in foundation donations, helping us set up our newest named award, the ANZCA Innovation & Technology Research Award. Last year we also awarded our first ‘Emerging Investigator ANZCA Research Grant’. Made possible by Foundation Patrons, it offers up to $70,000 as a pathway from our small novice grants to larger projects, exclusively for our emerging investigators. We recieved five applications this year.
In 2021 we set up the ANZCA Professional Practice Research Network and two new grants to foster work in this area, supplementing our strong support of basic science and clinical research. During 2024 we continue to work towards opportunities to secure funding to establish new named awards for research and other programs supported by the Foundation.

Environment and sustainability

For 2025, we have again offered the new “Environment and Sustainability Research Grant” of $25,000 for research into sustainable anaesthetic practice. We hope to confirm our first grant this year.

World first techniques lead to discoveries in CRPS study

 A foundation-funded Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CPRS) study has found that specific immune cells (Langerhans cells and CXCR3+ lymphocyte cells) were closer to nerves in the affected skin of CRPS patients, which may contribute to persistent pain.
It also found that the sensory cortex, thalamus and hypothalamus - brain regions responsible for pain and autonomic responses - respond differently to heat pain in patients with CRPS, suggesting these brain changes are responsible for propagating ongoing pain and autonomic symptoms in CRPS patients.
The study, Immune-to-brain signalling in CRPS: unravelling the detrimental relationship between inflammation and autonomic dysfunction, led by the University of Sydney’s Associate Professors Marc Russo and Paul Austin, was completed this year. It included two technical world-firsts: the first ever ultra-high resolution functional MRI study in CRPS, and the first high-parameter assessment of neuroimmune interactions in CRPS affected tissues.
These insights may lead to changes in clinical practice in treating CRPS. Understanding the pathogenic immune cell-nerve interactions could lead to targeted anti-inflammatory pain treatment strategies, and appreciating the pain pathway changes in specific brain regions could help to develop therapies to alter aberrant activity. Finally, identification of predictive immune biomarkers could enhance earlier diagnosis and treatment before long standing changes occur in the brain.

From basic science to multi-centre clinical trials

Research made possible by foundation donors continues to lead the way to ANZCA Clinical Trials Network multi-centre clinical trials. After Medical Research Future Fund grants of $A8 million in 2022 for the CALIPSO cardiac postoperative sepsis trial, and $A2.9 million for the SNaPP study of neostigmine and sugammadex for pulmonary complications, an NHMRC grant of $A4.1 million was awarded in August 2023 for the DECIDE trial on dexmedetomidine and delirium in cardiac surgery. Total historic funding generated for ANZCA CTN trials last year surpassed $A73 million.

Why should we support research?

At the foundation’s ASM reception, ANZCA President Professor David Story reflected on the connection between ANZCA’s leadership in perioperative medicine and in academic and clinical research.
Anaesthetists’ and pain medicine physicians’ high-quality medical research is expanding published scientific knowledge and evidence in anaesthesia, pain medicine, and perioperative medicine; helping to ensure the specialties are represented in major universities, and continuing a heritage of advancement of the specialties.
“A research-active health workforce underpins an integrated, continuously improving health system. At the heart of this…is a cohort of world-class clinician researchers…” Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences[1]

ANZCA grant review process

The foundation wishes to thank the many reviewers who have agreed to provide an assessment of an ANZCA grant application for funding in 2025. This is a vital element of the evaluation process and we acknowledge your invaluable contribution to the peer-review process.

Global and Indigenous health

Through ANZCA’s dedicated Global Development and Indigenous Health Committees and Policy team, our donors continue to support a range of grants, scholarships, and overseas training and education visits to assist delivery of safe and effective anaesthesia and pain medicine in low and middle-income countries, in our region and beyond. Nine projects have now been funded through the foundation-funded ANZCA Health Equity Project Fund.

Supporting the foundation

Gifts in Australia are still fully tax-deductible, and in New Zealand attract tax credits, meaning that your donation helps redirect government funding to support the work of our fellows. To donate, please search ‘GiftOptions – ANZCA’ in your browser, or click the donation link here.

For donations by funds transfer, or other queries, please contact us for our account details.

[1] : Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences (2022). Research and Innovation as Core Functions in Transforming the Health System: A Vision for the Future of Health in Australia.

Last updated 12:17 11.07.2024