Research Australia Awards

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Professor Sharon Lewin, of The Peter Doherty Institute of Infection and Immunity, was recognised with The Peter Wills Medal at last night's Research Australia Awards.

The Peter Wills Medal, for advancing Australia’s international reputation within the sector, was one of several awards that celebrate the accomplishments of people who have made significant contributions to Australian health and medical research through ongoing advocacy, ground breaking research and discovery, or generous philanthropic donations.

The Awards, which are in their 13th year, recognised those in the categories of discovery, advocacy, philanthropy, health services research and lifetime achievement.

A number of outstanding Australians were celebrated, including Connie and Sam Johnson, Founders of the Love Your Sister campaign who aim to raise $10 million for breast cancer.

Elizabeth Foley, CEO and Managing Director of Research Australia, said Research Australia, in its 15th year of operations, is proud to continue to celebrate the nation’s best in health and medical research.

“For thirteen of our fifteen years Research Australia has recognised those Australians who have continuously contributed to, and advocated for, the health and medical research sector in Australia through the Research Australia Awards. This year was no different; we received an impressive number of award nominations and continue to be so inspired by those put forward.

“Our sector is fortunate to have so many worthy individuals, teams and organisations who continue to work relentlessly to ensure that health and medical research continues to push the boundaries of discovery, improve the health outcomes of Australians and better healthcare delivery in this country,” said Ms Foley.

“We congratulate all of the recipients of this year’s awards for their pioneering efforts and their ongoing commitment to advancing the health and medical research industry in this country, inspiring many along the way. Given the complexity of the issues facing the health of Australians, health and medical research has never been so important.”

The 2015 Research Australia Award recipients are:

  • The Peter Wills Medal (for advancing Australia’s international reputation within the sector): Prof Sharon Lewin, Director, The Peter Doherty Institute of Infection and Immunity;
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Professor Perry Bartlett FAA, Professor of Molecular Neuroscience, Queensland Brain Institute;
  • Discovery Award (for an early career researcher): Dr Andrew Gardner, PhD candidate, Centre for Translational Neuroscience and Mental Health, Calvary Mater Hospital, Newcastle;
  • Advocacy Award: Connie and Sam Johnson, Founders of Love Your Sister;
  • Great Australian Philanthropy Award: John Gandel AO and Pauline Gandel, Gandel Philanthropy; and,
  • Health Services Research Award: Prof Jeffrey Braithwaite, Founding Director, Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Macquarie University.

The $80,000 GSK Award for Research Excellence went to a research partnership between The University of Melbourne and Monash University.

The research could assist the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, peptic ulcers, tuberculosis and lead to better vaccines. The successful team, led by Professors James McCluskey and Jamie Rossjohn, have uncovered insights into how the immune system recognises pathogens (harmful germs) such as salmonella and tuberculosis.

Geoff McDonald, GSK Australia Vice President and General Manager, said GSK is very proud to be able to support local researchers with the Award, now in its 35th year.

“It is a great honour to be able to assist outstanding researchers with this award,” he said. “Research and development is all about inquisitiveness and innovation. Key new insights like this along the path to discovery are of great importance and need to be encouraged and supported.”

Research Australia also thanked the Awards’ sponsors - AskRIGHT, Cook Medical, Griffith University, GlaxoSmithKline, Diabetes Australia and the Victorian Government.