Australian biotechnologists and scientists celebrated in Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science


Professor Michelle Simmons, Professor Chris Greening, Professor Glenn King, and Associate Professor Lara Herrero have been recognised for their extraordinary contributions to science at the 2023 Prime Minister’s Science awards in Canberra.

Leading Australian quantum scientist Prof Michelle Simmons AO, UNSW Sydney, has taken out the $250,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science for her pioneering developments in quantum computing.

Professor Simmons founded Australia’s first quantum computing company in 2017, Silicon Quantum Computing, and alongside her team, pioneered a new precise style of manufacturing that forms the basis for a new approach to quantum computing. It is the only company to manufacture quantum computing components at the atomic scale.

Professor Simmons’ efforts have the potential to be applied across several other fields, including therapeutic drug design, reducing the cost of airline fuel, and creating better fertilisers for agriculture. She was previously Australian of the Year in 2018 and was made an officer of the Order of Australia the following year.

Entrepreneur Professor Glenn King, University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience and Infensa Bioscience, received the 2023 Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation for his ground-breaking discovery that peptides from the venom of the Australian funnel web spider can be used for sustainable crop protection and to develop pharmaceuticals that treat chronic pain, epilepsy and stroke.

Professor Chris Greening, Monash University, was awarded the 2023 Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year for his world-first discovery that microbes live on air, which led to the understanding that microbes help regulate climate change and air pollution by removing 350 million tonnes of gases such as carbon monoxide from the atmosphere each year.

Hear more from Professor Greening at the AusBiotech 2023 CSIRO-sponsored conference panel Curbing AMR: beyond the medicines on Thursday, 2 November, in Brisbane.

Meanwhile, Associate Professor Lara Herrero, Griffith University, won the 2023 Prime Minister’s Prize for New Innovators. With a focus on Ross River virus (RRV) and other mosquito-transmitted viruses associated with arthritis, A/Prof Herrero translated her research into a world-first drug with potential to treat these diseases in humans with long-term debilitating symptoms in less than ten years.

She repurposed a known drug, and has now successfully commercialised the IP for the novel therapeutic. This is through an exclusive, royalty-bearing licence deal between Griffith University and ASX-listed biotechnology company Paradigm Biopharmaceuticals (ASX:PAR).

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese MP said, “The achievements of the 2023 recipients reflect the world-class quality of Australia’s science and research sector and the dedication of our STEM teachers. It confirms the future of Australian science is stronger than ever.”

For more information, see the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science – Science Prizes.