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Centenary Institute - Medical Research
Centenary Institute - Medical Research

Postgraduate Research Coordinator of the Year 

Professor Mark Gorrell, Head of Centenary’s Liver Enzymes in Metabolism and Inflammation Program has received a Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association (SUPRA) Postgraduate Research Coordinator of the Year (Medicine) Award for 2019. 

The Award acknowledges outstanding knowledge, commitment and care in higher degree research supervision at the University of Sydney as nominated and judged by research postgraduates. 

“This award is a great pleasure because it is from the students who are my focus in facilitating their navigation of the university system and their career progression to attain a high level training degree,” says Prof Gorrell.

Award winner visits Centenary

A/Prof James Hudson from the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and recipient of the Centenary Institute Medical Innovation Award (formerly Lawrence Creative Prize) in 2017, has presented a seminar at the Centenary Institute on the progression of his exciting cardiac organoids activity.

Delivering his talk on the topic, ‘Human cardiac organoids for the discovery of new therapeutics’, A/Prof Hudson discussed his work on state-of-the art bioengineering approaches for human 3D organoid development (an organoid is a miniaturized and very simplified version of an organ and is derived from stem cells).

Creating organoids that have the characteristics of heart muscle, A/Prof Hudson is better able to study heart disease as well as to test potential new medications. He is also exploring organoid potential for treating or repairing damaged tissue in the heart.

During the seminar, A/Prof Hudson explained that he had identified several therapeutic candidates for cardiac regeneration from his research and that he was currently doing further pre-clinical work in an attempt to translate these findings into humans.

Noting his prior association with the Centenary Institute as a winner of the Institute’s distinguished medical research award, Dr Hudson was happy to explain what winning the award had meant to him.

“Winning the award provided additional recognition of my research program, was very helpful for me when I was recruited to QIMR Berghofer and has also given weight to my grant applications,” he said.

“It’s an absolute pleasure to be presenting here at the Centenary Institute and to be able to share the progression of my research.”

Centenary scientists SOAR

Two Centenary Institute scientists, Associate Professor Jodie Ingles (pictured left) and Dr Renjing Liu, are recipients of this year’s Sydney Research Accelerator (SOAR) prizes which support outstanding University of Sydney early and mid-career researchers.

They both receive $100,000 over the next two years to take their research careers to the next level.

Associate Professor Jodie Ingles (who leads the Clinical Cardiac Genetic Group at the Centenary Institute) will use her grant to develop and expand an Undiagnosed Genetic Heart Diseases (UGHD) Program. The focus of her research is to make a positive impact on the management of patients with inherited heart diseases and their families.

Dr Renjing Liu (who is head Head of the Agnes Ginges Laboratory for Diseases of the Aorta at the Centenary Institute) will use her grant to continue her research into epigenetic regulation of vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) plasticity. Her work has opened up new avenues of treatment for cardiovascular disease and will be further applied to diabetes.

The Centenary Institute congratulates both researchers for their outstanding efforts in being awarded these prestigious University of Sydney prizes.

Further information on the prizes is available here.

Innovative young Australian researchers recognised

An Australian scientist who has revealed how specialised immune cells protect against cancer – Dr Simone Park from the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection & Immunity at The University of Melbourne – has been named the winner of the ‘In Memory of Neil Lawrence Prize’ at the 2019 Centenary Institute Medical Innovation Awards. She receives $30,000 from Centenary’s proud sponsor Commonwealth Private to support her ongoing research.

Dr Elinor Hortle from the Centenary Institute has been awarded the $15,000 ‘Bayer Innovation Award’ after finishing in second place for her discovery that anti-platelet drugs like aspirin might provide an effective treatment for tuberculosis (TB). The ‘Harvard Club of Australia Foundation Travel Prize’ worth $5,000 for the purpose of travelling to Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA to explore opportunities for collaboration, also went to Dr Hortle.

Separately, Dr Elise McGlashan from the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health – Monash University has been named winner of the ‘People’s Choice Award’, voted on by the general public and research community, for her work showing that simple changes to light exposure could dramatically increase the number of patients who benefit from first-line antidepressant medications.

Read the full Media Release here.

Prestigious prize for Honours student

Centenary Institute Honours student Arianna Di Fazio has been awarded the 2019 Gabriella Wittman Prize for Genetics.

This prestigious prize is awarded to a senior biology student by the Faculty of Science of the University of Sydney.

Arianna is applying and developing skills in molecular biology and protein biochemistry in an Honours year in a liver research program that targets liver cirrhosis.

Congratulations Arianna!

Tuberculosis and cancer discoveries vie for top award

Two Australian researchers have made revolutionary discoveries with the potential to offer exciting new approaches in the battle against disease – one targeting tuberculosis and the other cancer – and are now battling it out for top prize at the upcoming 2019 Centenary Institute Medical Innovation Awards.

The awards, which recognise and celebrate Australia’s inspiring young researchers who are successfully challenging the big questions of medical research, has a prize pool in excess of $50,000 on offer. The finalists and their ground-breaking discoveries have now been officially announced.

Dr Elinor Hortle* (pictured left) from the Centenary Institute has been selected for her discovery that platelets (cells that help the body form clots to stop bleeding) have an active role in the development of tuberculosis (TB). The major implication of her work is that anti-platelet drugs including aspirin may be an effective therapy for tuberculosis. With TB disproportionately affecting the developing world, the ability to extend current treatment regimens with such a cheap, safe, clinically approved drug could have an enormous impact on the global control of this deadly infectious disease.

Dr Simone Park* (pictured right) from the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection & Immunity at The University of Melbourne is the other finalist. Her research is focused on better understanding how the immune system can be targeted and/or activated to treat disease including cancer. She discovered that specialised immune cells – known as tissue-resident memory T (TRM) cells – could suppress the growth of melanoma cancer cells without completely eliminating them. In identifying that TRM cells are critical players in the anti-cancer immune response, she believes that the targeting of these cells could open the door to a new and innovative strategy to improve cancer treatments.

The two finalists were chosen from 32 entries submitted for the Centenary Institute Medical Innovation Awards, representing 22 research institutions and universities, across five Australian states.

“The selection of the two finalists was the result of careful consideration from a line-up of distinguished judges comprising some of the most prestigious scientists around the world,” said Centenary Institute Executive Director Professor Mathew Vadas.

“It is enormously exciting to see the quality of the applications for this award improve each year. Our future, as a high performing and innovative nation in medical research, is firmly linked to the long-term support of these wonderful talents,” he said.

The winner of the top award, the ‘In Memory of Neil Lawrence Prize’ will receive $30,000 from Commonwealth Private to support their research, as well as a perpetual Nick Mount hand blown glass trophy.

The runner-up will receive the ‘Bayer Innovation Award’ and $15,000 to continue to develop their research. One of these two award winners will also be presented the ‘Harvard Club of Australia Foundation Travel Prize’ worth $5,000 for the purpose of travelling to Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA to explore opportunities for collaboration.

A ‘People’s Choice Award’, voted on by the general public and research community has taken place and was won by Dr Elise McGlashan from the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health – Monash University, for her work showing that simple changes to light exposure could dramatically increase the number of patients who benefit from first-line antidepressant medications.

All three award winning scientists will be recognised at the 2019 Centenary Institute Medical Innovation Awards announcement ceremony, taking place in Sydney on Wednesday 21st August, 2019.

About the CIMIA: The annual Centenary Institute Medical Innovation Awards are designed to recognise and celebrate Australia’s bold young researchers who are taking risks and challenging the big questions of medical research, while promoting a domestic culture of brilliance in medical research. The finalists are selected and ranked after careful consideration by an international panel of adjudicators.

* Presented in alphabetic order by surname

Read the full media release here.

Get Voting for People’s Choice Award

The general public and research community are being encouraged to have their say by deciding who should be named the ‘People’s Choice’ winner of the 2019 Centenary Institute Medical Innovation Awards (CIMIA).

The CIMIA is considered to be one of the most prestigious prizes for early-career researchers, by recognising bold young researchers who are taking the risks to ask the big questions of today.

A large number of entries have been received for this year’s Awards, demonstrating the breadth of young scientists working to find new ways to treat and cure society’s most debilitating diseases.

These life-changing projects can be viewed on the 2019 Centenary Institute Medical Innovation Awards entry page, where members of the public are able to choose their favourite by clicking on the ‘Vote’ button on the individual entry pages.

The entry with the most votes will be crowned winner of the People’s Choice Award, and will take home a $2,000 prize to help them continue their innovative research.

Two Weeks to get Your CIMIA Application In

There are only two weeks left to apply for the Centenary Institute Medical Innovation Awards with a prize pool in excess of $50,000 available to the winning applicants.

The Awards recognise young, inspiring Australian researchers who are tackling the big questions in the biomedical space and who are helping accelerate medical research advances for the betterment of all of our communities.

Do you know an eligible postdoctoral scientist who fits the bill? Or is this you!

Information and details on how to apply can be found here.

Meet the previous winners and read about the Awards here.

Leading respiratory scientist recognised for research excellence

Professor Phil Hansbro, Deputy Director and Faculty at the Centenary Institute has been recognised for outstanding contributions to the advancement of knowledge in respiratory medicine and science.

Professor Hansbro accepted the Research Medal at the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand and Australian and New Zealand Society of Respiratory Science Annual Scientific Meeting (TSANZSRA) on the Gold Coast.

“It is a huge honour to receive this award. It means so much to me coming from this society. We have amongst us the best respiratory researchers in Australia and indeed the world. I attend the major respiratory conferences around the world and the quality and importance of the work that Australian researchers do is as good as anywhere and we certainly punch way way above our weight in Australia,” said Professor Hansbro on accepting the award at the Meeting’s Gala Dinner tonight.

Read the full Media Release.

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