PM award for Monash researcher

Saturday, 18 September, 2004

Monash researcher Dr Jamie Rossjohn has received a Prime Minister's award for his contribution to science.

Dr Rossjohn, who heads the university's Protein Crystallography Unit, was presented with the Science Minister's Prize for Life Scientist of the Year award at a function at Parliament House recently.

The award, presented to a scientist of 35 years or younger, acknowledges Dr Rossjohn's work in the areas of structural biology and X-ray crystallography.

It was one of five awards presented to scientists across Australia as part of the Prime Minister's Prizes for Science.

Dr Rossjohn is one of Australia's leading scientists and has more than 50 publications and several patents to his name.

His research has contributed to our knowledge in the areas of immunology, asthma, multiple sclerosis, parasites, bacterial toxins and the performance of anti-cancer drugs.

X-ray crystallography is a technology-driven field of science that seeks to better understand the shape and function of proteins and other biological molecules. It requires X-ray radiation and powerful X-ray sources such as a synchrotron.

Recently, Dr Rossjohn and his team, in close collaboration with Professor Jim McCluskey and his team at the University of Melbourne, used this technique to determine the structure of the immunosuppressant, OKT3, used in organ transplants and auto-immune disorders.

The team's findings have identified how the drug interacts with T-cells, and provides insight into how the structure can be improved to reduce the rate of organ rejection.

Dr Rossjohn said he was delighted to accept the award on behalf of his team.

"I see this award as recognition by both my peers and the government, not just for me, but for the team and our successes in structural biology," he said. "Such successes would not have been possible without support from national and international funding bodies, as well as the significant commitment Monash has made to structural biology."

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