IMB health and medical researchers recognised in awards

12 Dec 2007

Two researchers from the Institute for Molecular Bioscience have been recognised in the inaugural National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Awards. 

Professors John Hancock and Robert Parton, as well as Dr David Copland from UQ's School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, were among a select group of winners honoured at a ceremony held on Wednesday December 12 in Canberra. 

The NHMRC Awards recognise a number of outstanding Australians for their contributions to health and medical research. The awards are designed to show the NHMRC's appreciation to the research and ethics community for their considerable scientific research, innovation and leadership. 

Professor David Siddle, UQ's Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), said the awards were testament to the outstanding work of the three researchers in areas that will one day improve the health of many people. 

“These awards recognise the ground-breaking work of three outstanding researchers,” Professor Siddle said. 

“In addition to the fundamental research, these talented researchers are working on solutions to problems such as cancer, muscular dystrophy and treatments for brain injury and disease.” 

Professors Hancock and Parton received the NHMRC Achievement Award – Program Grant, which recognises their work in studying the surface of the cell. 

Far from being a smooth, uniform area, the cell surface is actually organised into different domains with distinct functions. The researchers will map these domains and identify their functions, which should allow the development of therapeutic strategies aimed at combating the changes associated with cell transformation in cancer and other human diseases such as muscular dystrophy. 

Professor Hancock is the Deputy Director (Research) of the IMB and a world authority on Ras proteins, which are located on the underside of the cell membrane and play a role in triggering 30 percent of all human tumours. 

Professor Parton is an expert on caveolae, small pits in the cell surface, which have been linked to muscular dystrophy, liver regeneration and obesity. The two recently received a $5 million Program Grant to support their study.