Australian Scientists awarded $2.5m for research into new immune therapies and complications of stroke
Embargoed until 08:00pm AEDT / Thursday 11 Oct, 2018
Two Australian scientists have each been awarded an AUD$1.25 million, five-year, CSL Centenary Fellowship to further research into why so many people die from infection following stroke and how we might develop better vaccines against diseases such as tuberculosis.
Dr Connie Wong and Dr Daniel Pellicci will be funded through the $25 million CSL Centenary Fellowships program, which was established in 2016 to support mid-career Australian scientists to pursue world-class medical research.
Dr Connie Wong from Monash University’s Centre for Inflammatory Diseases wants to understand why as many as one fifth of deaths following stroke are caused by pneumonia and other infections.
Connie and her team have discovered that stroke not only damages the brain but weakens the immune system and allows bacteria in the gut to escape and cause infection in other parts of the body.
The Fellowship will enable Connie to investigate how the brain communicates with the immune system as well as researching new strategies to restore the gut barrier’s integrity following stroke.
“I hope that in five years’ time I will have made a difference in how patients with stroke are treated, found new ways of stopping infection, and developed therapies to wake up the immune system without damaging effects,” said Dr Wong.
Dr Daniel Pellicci from the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity at the University of Melbourne, and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute wants to recruit specialist white blood cells, known as ‘unconventional T-cells’ in the fight against tuberculosis (TB).
‘Unconventional T-cells’ are among the immune system’s first responders. They can kill infected cells and recruit other parts of the immune system to destroy the attackers. Until now, these cells have been difficult to study but Daniel has developed investigative tools to uncover the basic biology of how these cells work in the immune system.
Daniel will use his Fellowship to focus on people suffering from tuberculosis. He hopes his work will lead the way to an improved TB vaccine as well as other new immune therapies.
“In the longer term, I think we’ll be able to develop potent lipid molecules to stimulate these cells to help fight various infectious diseases, plus other diseases that involve the immune system such as cancer, autoimmunity and allergies,” said Dr Pellicci.
“Australian research has an excellent track record in new discoveries to address the world’s unmet medical needs,” said CSL Chief Scientific Officer Dr Andrew Cuthbertson.
“The CSL Centenary Fellowships acknowledge that reputation and aim to grow the quality and quantity of Australian biotech through well-funded, long-term support.”
“The Fellows are a group of exceptionally bright young Australians, each with decades of research ahead of them, and who will become some of Australia’s pre-eminent scientists. We look forward to following their careers as they in turn lead and mentor a new generation of promising medical researchers,” said Dr Cuthbertson.
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Ø High res photos, HD footage, research profiles available
Christina Hickie Christina.Hickie@csl.com.au, 03 9389 3425 / 0429 609 762
Photo & Interview opportunity: Dr Wong and Dr Pellicci will be presented with their CSL Centenary Fellows certificate at an award presentation in Melbourne on Thursday 11th October at an Arts Centre Venue. Media are invited to attend. For details, contact Christina Hickie: 0429 609 762
About the CSL Centenary Fellowships
The Fellowships are competitively selected, high value grants available to mid-career Australians who wish to continue a career in medical research in Australia. Two individual, five-year, AUD$1.25 million fellowships are awarded each calendar year. www.cslfellowships.com.au
About CSLCSL (ASX:CSL) is a leading global biotechnology company with a dynamic portfolio of life-saving medicines, including those that treat haemophilia and immune deficiencies, as well as vaccines to prevent influenza. Since our start in 1916, we have been driven by our promise to save lives using the latest technologies. Today, CSL — including our two businesses, CSL Behring and Seqirus - provides life-saving products to more than 60 countries and employs 22,000 people. Our unique combination of commercial strength, R&D focus and operational excellence enables us to identify, develop and deliver innovations so our patients can live life to the fullest. www.csl.com