The Archdiocese of Sydney has once again invited Australian medical researchers to apply for a $100,000 grant for research supporting vulnerable human life.

“We are committed to a culture of life, including scientific research that respects human life from conception until natural death,” said Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP in a June 28 statement

The research can investigate medical treatments on babies in-utero, palliative care at any stage of life with a focus on pain management, or therapeutic use of adult stem cells. 

Applicants must exhibit a successful track record, and their research must meet the “highest international standards of scientific excellence.”

“Catholic moral teachings on human sexuality, marriage and family, and end of life treatment will be respected,” the research application reads. The archdiocese emphasizes that the research must not involve the destruction of human embryos, or the use of tissues (including cells) derived from human embryos or aborted babies.

The archbishop called the research grants “more important than ever,” citing federal and state laws promoting abortion and euthanasia, as well as a proposed conscience vote to allow the creation of babies with three genetic parents - or "three-person IVF."

Applications for the grant are due October 18, 2021, and funds will be made available on January 1, 2022. 

The 2022 grant will mark the 10th time since 2003 that the archdiocese has offered the opportunity to researchers.

The 2020 winner of the archdiocese’s award was Dr. Carmine Gentile, a biomedical engineer from the University of Technology Sydney. 

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Gentile used three-dimensional bioprinting of replacement heart patches, as well as adult stem cells, to support patients suffering from heart failure, according to The Catholic Weekly. 

Praising the safety of adult stem cells, Gentile told The Catholic Weekly that, “besides serious ethical issues concerning the use of embryonic stem cells, there is also a serious risk that the embryonic cell could be rejected by the patient's body.”

Archbishop Fisher said that Gentile’s work demonstrated the efficacy of adult stem cell research as an ethical alternative to using embryonic stem cells. 

“If we can potentially save lives through tackling one of Australia’s most pressing health challenges - that of heart failure - through ethically responsible research projects like this one,” Fisher said, “then future generations will ultimately reap the rewards.”

The 2015 award recipient, Professor Nick Di Girolamo from the School of Medical Sciences at the University of NSW, said the archdiocese’s grant supported his research on treatments for corneal disease. The grant helped him find preliminary research data, which in turn helped him secure further funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia and the U.S. Department of Defense.

“Our hope is that within four or five years, we will be able to clearly apply our findings on mice to humans. Ultimately this would lead to better treatments because patients would be able to receive transplants with better quality stem cells than are currently available,” he said.