In an Australian first, Newcastle researchers will implement a program in drug and alcohol treatment centres across three states to address patients’ smoking addictions.

Associate Professor Billie Bonevski will lead the research supported by two grants totalling $1.54 million announced by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) today.

The team will partner with the Cancer Council NSW.

“Currently, patients of treatment centres continue smoking while receiving treatment for drug and alcohol problems,” Associate Professor Bonevski said.

“However, international research shows they are more likely to die of tobacco-related disease than drug and alcohol-related illness.

We want to change the care provision in drug and alcohol centres so that smoking is also addressed in patients’ treatment plans.

“Our four-year project will allow us to work with 30 drug and alcohol treatment centres in NSW, Queensland and Victoria to design, implement and evaluate the program.”

The University of Newcastle has attracted $12.4 million in research funding from the NHMRC, announced today by the Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Mike Calford, said the funding recognised the University’s long-standing reputation for leadership in health and medical research.

“I am particularly pleased to see projects funded in the areas of population health and reproductive science, where the University of Newcastle is globally recognised for research excellence,” he said.

“These projects will deliver much-needed outcomes for Australia to address mental health wellbeing, addictions, chronic disease, asthma, and the complex field of reproductive science.”

The NHMRC also announced four fellowships to the University of Newcastle:

• A Career Development Fellowship of $397,724 to Dr Luke Wolfenden
• A Practitioner Fellowship of $317,153 to Professor Chris Levi
• Research Fellowships to Professor Amanda Baker ($640,785) and Associate Professor Kypros Kypri ($652,765)

For a complete list of the University’s successful research projects, visit www.newcastle.edu.au and www.nhmrc.gov.au