Winner of 2021’s Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation congratulated


AusBiotech congratulates The University of Sydney’s Professor Anthony (Tony) Weiss AM, who has been presented with the $250,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation 2021. One of AusBiotech’s original members, Prof. Weiss has been recognised for his trailblazing research into accelerating and improving the repair of human tissue.

The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science are Australia’s most prestigious awards for outstanding achievements in scientific research, research-based innovation and excellence in science, mathematics or technology teaching.

In 2008, Prof. Weiss founded the Australian spin-out company Elastagen to commercialise his research and inventions. The company raised $35 million in venture capital and grant funding, completed clinical trials and scaled-up production. Ten years later, Elastagen was sold for $334 million to Allergan, one of the world’s 20 largest biopharmaceutical companies, in one of the largest transactions ever completed in the Australian life science sector.

Accepting the Award, Prof. Weiss said, “This award means so much to me. It's been wonderful to go down the path of commercialising the products of science and technology. And it's incredibly invigorating to put products on shelves in hospitals and elsewhere to make the world a better place.”

Minister for Science and Technology Melissa Price said research-based innovation leading to commercialisation demonstrated the value and importance of the work of Australian scientists.

Further prizes presented on the night included:

  • Prime Minister’s Prize for Science: Professor Edward C. Holmes, University of Sydney. An evolutionary biologist and virologist who played a transformative role in the global scientific response to COVID-19, Prof. Holmes received the $250,000 prize for almost 30 years of pioneering research on genome sequencing data, providing invaluable insights into diseases such as HIV, Ebola, SARS and most recently, COVID-19. Last year Professor Holmes was the first person in the world to publicly share the COVID-19 virus’ genome sequence. This crucial data enabled scientists to start vaccine design within days.
  • Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year: Sherene Loi, Medical Oncologist and Head of the Translational Breast Cancer Laboratory at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre was awarded the $50,000 Prize for her work to translate scientific findings into innovative treatments that can improve the survival of breast cancer patients in Australia and around the world.
  • Prize for New Innovators: A/Prof. Michael Bowen, co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer for Kinoxis Therapeutics and from the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre was presented the $50,000 prize for his work to drive scientific discoveries relating to serious brain disorders (such as opioid use disorder) that lack effective treatments.

Watch a video about Prof. Weiss’ work, as well as his acceptance speech, here.