Two Australian scientists have each been awarded five year $1.25 million CSL Centenary Fellowships for research looking at ways to improve treatments for two of the world’s biggest health challenges - malaria and cancer.
The Fellowships were presented in Perth last night at the Australian Academy for Health and Medical Research Gala Dinner.
Dr Kamala Thriemer and Associate Professor Daniel Thomas will be funded through the $25 million CSL Centenary Fellowships program.
The program was established in 2016 to foster medical research by supporting mid-career Australian scientists to in their pursuit of world-class research.
Dr Kamala Thriemer has led large clinical trials in malaria-affected countries to tackle vivax malaria, which infects 14 million people every year. The parasite can hide in the liver and re-emerge months later. Her studies have shown that as few as one in ten patients successfully complete the long course of treatment.
She will use her $1.25 million CSL Centenary Fellowship to develop and optimise treatment programs against vivax malaria in Southeast Asia and the Horn of Africa. She is confident that vivax malaria can be controlled using the suite of drugs currently available.
Dr Thriemer is a public health researcher at the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin.
Daniel Thomas has developed new ways to identify a cancer’s weakness and target it with personalised treatment. Later this year he will start treating patients with blood cancer including acute myeloid leukaemia.
The CSL Centenary Fellowship will facilitate his return from Stanford University to the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and the University of Adelaide.
“One of the greatest discoveries we’ve made over the past couple of years is the realisation that cancer cells are not as smart as we thought,” said Thomas. “There are limits to what they can do.”
CSL Chief Scientific Officer Professor Andrew Cuthbertson said Dr Thriemer and Dr Thomas both work in fields of global significance.
“These projects add to Australia’s international reputation for strong research with significant translational potential and global application,” he said.
“The CSL Centenary Fellowships aim to provide funding stability for leading Australian researchers through high-value, long-term support. We are proud to support this research and are excited by the benefits of these projects – not the least of which will be a new generation of young researchers inspired and mentored by Kamala and Daniel.”