IMB scientist wins national award

7 Oct 2003

A Queensland scientist at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) has been awarded the prestigious 2002 Amersham Biosciences Medal ahead of other distinguished Australian researchers.

The IMB's Professor Peter Koopman was awarded the Medal by the Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology for his outstanding contributions to understanding the genetic processes involved in the development and growth of mammals.

The Amersham Biosciences Medal is awarded to an Australian biochemist or molecular biologist for distinguished contributions to the field of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Professor Koopman said the high international standing of Australian research in developmental biology made this Award a great honour.

"With so many insightful scientists working in developmental biology, being recognised by this group of peers is a great honour," Professor Koopman said.

Professor Koopman's research looks at understanding the expression, regulation and function of new genes involved in the formation of the major organs of the body.

"We are interested in genes that control sex determination and how they affect other developmental systems like the development of the skeleton, and a group of genes involved in subsets of tissues like nerve cells, blood vessels and hair development."

IMB Co-Director Professor John Mattick said Professor Koopman's publication record was of the highest order and his mastery of the techniques of developmental biology was second-to-none in Australia.

"Peter's groundbreaking research into the genetic control of sex determination led to the discovery of the gene switch, Sry, found on the Y Chromosome of mammals and this discovery was featured on the front cover of the prestigious scientific journal Nature," Professor Mattick said.

"He has also played a leading role in the discovery and characterisation of several genes in the Sox developmental gene family including Sox 9, a gene responsible for skeletal development and disease as well as Sox 18, a gene responsible for the growth of blood vessels, which may have important applications in the fight against the growth of some cancerous tumours.

"His expertise is internationally recognised with numerous invitations to speak at overseas conferences, workshops and training courses. He was for several years the invited organiser of the "Molecular Embryology of the Mouse" course at the Cold Spring Harbour Laboratories in New York, widely regarded as the most prestigious developmental biology course in the world."

The Amersham Biosciences Award consists of a medal and invitations to present his work at research centres within Australia and New Zealand.