CSL awards $2.5m in grants to two Australian researchers

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Two Australian scientists have each been awarded a $1.25 million, five-year, CSL Centenary Fellowship to further research that aims to help patients beat leukaemia and examine the origins of memory to better understand Alzheimer’s disease.

Professor Geoff Faulkner and Associate Professor Steven Lane are the inaugural Fellows in a $25 million program established by CSL in its Centenary year to support Australian biomedical researchers.

Professor Faulkner from the University of Queensland believes long-term memory might be stored in our brain’s DNA and he will test his theory in brains affected by Alzheimer’s.

He has already shown the DNA in our brains is different to that in the rest of our bodies, and that it changes as we learn. He is proposing these changes are associated with how we store our long-term memories.

Associate Professor Steven Lane from the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute wants to tailor leukaemia treatments to reduce relapse rates in older patients.

Today, 85 per cent of children with leukaemia can be cured, but the outlook for patients over 60 is bleak, with only 10 per cent surviving beyond one year as their cancer adapts to weather the storm of standard chemotherapy treatments. Steven wants to change that outlook.

He has developed a method to rapidly profile the genetics of leukaemia types and model them in the lab, allowing him to map the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatments against the genomes of individual cancers.

“Australian research punches above its weight on the world stage with an excellent track record in new discoveries to potentially address the world’s unmet medical needs,” said CSL CEO and managing director Paul Perreault.

“At CSL, we are driven by our promise to save lives and protect the health of people around the world. We’re extremely proud to support research that holds the potential to save and change many lives. Our Centenary Fellowships honour CSL’s long legacy of contributing to innovative medicines, particularly for patients suffering serious diseases.”

CSL Chief Scientific Officer Andrew Cuthbertson said the resaearchers are the embodiment of what these Fellowships are about.

“Innovation is one of the core values that guide CSL’s significant investment into medical science, so it is fitting that the Centenary Fellowships seek to foster the best scientists in Australia who will shape the next century of critical breakthroughs.

“Growing skills and expertise through well-funded, long-term support is essential in order to help the Australian research community continue to thrive,” he said.