National honour for Queensland researcher

16 Dec 2003

Australia's peak scientific body the Australian Academy of Science has awarded a Queensland scientist from the University of Queensland's Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) the prestigious Gottschalk Medal for medical sciences.

The award recognises IMB's Associate Professor Melissa Little's groundbreaking work to understand the complex genetic messages controlling kidney development and how this may be applied to prevent or cure chronic renal failure. 

With both PhD and BSc (Hons) from UQ, Associate Professor Little said she was deeply honoured by the award given the high calibre of previous winners.

"We are working in a very exciting period of medical research and the challenge is to capitalise on research advances by ensuring the benefits are passed on to the Australian community," she said.

"Chronic renal failure (CRF) is a devastating disease and expensive to treat. It is estimated that 60,000 Australians between 12 and 74 yrs have CRF costing the health system approximately $1 billion and each year approximately 4000 Australian adults will be diagnosed with CRF."

IMB Director Professor John Mattick said the award was extremely well deserved and recognised Melissa's extensive scientific contributions in the area of cancer genetics and kidney development.

"Melissa's work initially focussed on the childhood kidney cancer Wilm's tumour or nephroblastoma," Professor Mattick said.

"With publications in prestigious journals such as Science, Nature Genetics and Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (USA) her work has led to a better understanding of kidney development and kidney disease processes, and combined with her efforts in establishing the Renal Regeneration Consortium and spin-off company Nephrogenix, will eventually result in new treatments for renal disease."

Aiming to promote science, the Australian Academy of Science is modelled on the Royal Society of London and was founded in 1954. The Academy receives government grants towards its activities but has no statutory obligation to government.

In addition to the Gottschalk Medal Melissa Little has received many prestigious fellowships and awards including:

  • Sylvia and Charles Viertel Fellowship
  • NHMRC R.Douglas Wright Fellowship
  • Royal Society Endeavour Fellowship
  • Australian Life Sciences Award
  • AMP Biomedical Research Award
  • AMRAD Postdoctoral Award
  • Queensland Cancer Fund Travelling Fellowship
  • Young Investigator Award
  • University Medal

This is the second time that an IMB researcher has been honoured with the Gottschalk Medal, the first being IMB's Deputy-Director (Research), Professor Brandon Wainwright.