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Centenary Institute - Medical Research
Centenary Institute - Medical Research

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.

Centenary scientists recognised for their world-class cancer research

Pictured: Dr Justin Wong and Mr Kurtis Budden (who accepted on behalf of Professor Phil Hansbro) at the Awards Ceremony, March 14, 2019.

Cancer Council NSW has awarded funding to 13 ground-breaking cancer research projects including two to the Centenary Institute – Dr Justin Wong, Head of our Epigenetics and RNA Biology Program for his research ‘Understanding the mechanisms that cause acute myeloid leukaemia’ and Professor Phil Hansbro, Director of the Centenary UTS Centre for Inflammation for his project ‘Could our gut bacteria play a role in lung cancer?’

“We are extremely proud to announce another round of extraordinary projects in 2019. We are confident these projects will provide incredible value to cancer patients and continue to push our progress towards a cancer free future,” said Dr Jane Hobson, Research Grants Manager at Cancer Council NSW.

Funds have been awarded to projects deemed through peer review to be of the highest scientific merit; and through consumer review to be of the most value to the community supporting Cancer Council.

Read the full Cancer Council NSW media release

Learn more about the work of Professor Phil Hansbro and Dr Justin Wong.

Associate Professor Jodie Ingles awarded NHMRC honour

Associate Professor Ingles has been awarded the highest-ranked NHMRC Career Development Fellowship in the Clinical Level 1 Category for her research, which focuses on better understanding the clinical, genetic and psychosocial aspects of inherited heart diseases.

Associate Professor Ingles is Head of the Clinical Cardiac Genetics Group in the Agnes Ginges Centre for Molecular Cardiology at Centenary. She is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney, and cardiac genetic counsellor in the Department of Cardiology, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney.

NHMRC Career Development Fellowships are incredibly competitive, with a success rate of just 13 per cent. Associate Professor Ingles says she feels incredibly privileged to have not only received a Fellowship, but to also have achieved the highest-ranking in her category.

“It’s like winning a ‘Golden Ticket’. Having this on my track record will hopefully place me in an even stronger position when I apply for grants and funding in future, which is the only way you can succeed as a medical researcher,” says Associate Professor Ingles.

Read the full media release here.

Learn more about Associate Professor Ingles’ research here.

Dr Justin Wong recipient of prestigious Australian Academy of Science award

Centenary’s Dr Justin Wong, Head of our Epigenetics and RNA Biology Program has been recognised by the Australian Academy of Science as one of the bright stars of Australian science by being awarded the prestigious early-career Ruth Stephens Gani Medal.

The Academy has recognised outstanding contributions to science with the announcement today of their 2019 honorific awards.

“ I would like to thank the academy for awarding me with this wonderful award. This is not just a recognition of my work but also the work of my mentor, collaborators, post-docs, research assistants and students,” says Dr Wong.

The work by Dr Wong uncovers a novel way to control gene expression with vast therapeutic potential for cancers and other genetic diseases.

Dr Wong is one of 20 of our nation’s leading and future superstars receiving the prestigious awards this year. This video tells his story.

We congratulate Dr Wong on this prestigious award and recognition. Centenary is delighted to see that Dr Wong joins a distinguished group of past recipients of the Ruth Stephens Gani Medal, which include two of recipients of the Centenary Institute Medical Innovation Award, Professor Geoff Faulkner and Professor Jian Yang.

Read the official Academy media release.

Learn more about Dr Wong and his work.