$1.4 million to advance Australian biomedical research

Friday, 16 October, 2015

$1.4 million to advance Australian biomedical research

The 2015 recipients of the Ramaciotti Awards for Biomedical Research, distributed by the Clive and Vera Ramaciotti Foundations, have been revealed.

Announced by Perpetual, a trustee of the Foundations, the awards will fund research that has the potential to reduce the cost of medicines worldwide.

The biennial Ramaciotti Biomedical Research Award, worth $1 million, has been granted to Professor David Craik of The University of Queensland's Institute for Molecular Bioscience and Professor Marilyn Anderson of the La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science, La Trobe University. The award will support Professors Craik and Anderson to establish the Clive and Vera Ramaciotti Facility (CVRF) for Producing Pharmaceuticals in Plants.

The CVRF will be a state-of-the-art facility to develop technologies to produce potent next-generation medicines inexpensively. The drugs may even be incorporated into novel plant products such as bio-pills (seeds), medicinal teas and foods, potentially improving the lives of patients who cannot afford current medications or cannot tolerate the side effects.

“We are thrilled to receive the Ramaciotti Biomedical Research Award for our work on using plants as 'biofactories' for producing next-generation pharmaceuticals," said Professor Craik.

“This research has great potential to provide medicines inexpensively to patients in both the developed and developing worlds. However, this type of blue sky research falls outside the realm of work typically funded by government or industry, so we are particularly grateful to the Ramaciotti Foundations for their support."

Professor Carola Vinuesa of The Australian National University was meanwhile selected as the recipient of the Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research, an annual award of $50,000 to honour an outstanding discovery in clinical or experimental biomedical research. Professor Vinuesa's discovery of the ROQUIN family of proteins has opened up new avenues to diagnose and treat autoimmune diseases.

Finally, up to $150,000 will also be allocated to each of the four recipients of the Ramaciotti Health Investment Grants. The grants are awarded to autonomous early-career scientists to support health or medical research with a potential path to clinical application within five years.

The recipients of the 2015 Ramaciotti Health Investment Grants and their projects are:

  • Dr Nikola Bowden, University of Newcastle — 'Repurposing traditional chemotherapy to prime advanced melanoma for immune therapy'
  • Dr Evelyn Smith, Western Sydney University — 'Obesity, inflammation and cognition: examining their relationship within a randomised controlled trial of cognitive remediation therapy'
  • Dr Matt Petoe, Bionics Institute — 'Advanced prosthetic vision: improving patient performance with a second generation Bionic Eye'
  • Dr Elin Gray, Edith Cowan University — 'Circulating tumour DNA to predict and monitor treatment response and detect acquired resistance in patients with metastatic melanoma'

In total, the Ramaciotti Foundations are distributing $1,407,829 to biomedical research through the awards.

Image credit: ©iStockphoto.com/David Gunn

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