Australian scientists awarded once again

Monday, 15 August, 2005

Amid tough global competition, with 500 scientists from 62 countries, Australia has confirmed its position as one of the world's pre-eminent biomedical destinations by securing almost 20% of the prestigious worldwide medical research awards announced by the US-based Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).

Eight Australians were among the 42 scientists awarded from 20 countries.

The HHMI is awarding a total of AU$23.3 million worldwide to tackle infectious and parasitic diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, haemorrhagic fevers and anthrax. The objective is to stimulate international efforts to understand the underlying mechanisms of diseases, help identify potential new drug targets and develop vaccines.

The newly announced HHMI International research Scholars include Prof Cowman, Dr Crabb, Dr Schofield, Dr Heath, Dr Belz from The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI); Prof Foote from WEHI and the Menzies Research Institute in Hobart; Prof McFadden and Associate Prof Andrianopoulos from the University of Melbourne. Each scientist will receive a five-year research grant of between AU$466,000 and AU$666,000.

Malaria expert Professor Alan Cowman, Head of the Infection and Immunity Division at WEHI, says, "On a world scale, these awards from the HHMI demonstrate the tremendous strength of basic biological research in Melbourne and at WEHI in particular. The funds granted will accelerate our search for more effective drugs and vaccines for malaria, which infects and debilitates about 10% of mankind and kills around 2 million people every year."

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