Young immunologist awarded for impact

17 November 2016

The young inventor behind a University of Queensland discovery that could benefit patients living with inflammatory diseases has been awarded the 2016 Research Australia Discovery Award.

UQ Institute for Molecular Bioscience researcher Dr Rebecca Coll received her award at last night’s Research Australia Health and Medical Research Awards ceremony in Sydney for her work in identifying promising anti-inflammatory compounds that block the NLRP3 inflammasome — a key driver of inflammation.

Dr Coll said inflammation was the body’s protective response to infection and injury; however, it was a growing global health issue and better treatments were needed.

“Uncontrolled inflammation contributes to the progression of many diseases including diabetes, arthritis, cancer, multiple sclerosis and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s,” Dr Coll said.

“We believe the NLRP3 inflammasome could be a fundamental factor driving the damaging inflammation associated with these diseases.”

To tackle this growing problem, Dr Coll and her colleagues at UQ and Trinity College Dublin have coupled their basic research with drug discovery and development, to understand inflammation at the cellular and molecular levels.

Dr Coll said she was proud to help create change for global health through research.

“There are no drugs clinically available that specifically target NLRP3, which means our work is an important advance towards identifying a first-in-class therapy for patients living with inflammatory diseases,” Dr Coll said.

“I am absolutely thrilled to receive this award and feel that it recognises our fantastic collaboration between chemistry and biology which has driven this innovative research.”

Research Australia CEO Nadia Levin said it was her privilege to recognise Dr Coll for her ground-breaking work, and her important discovery which could change lives.

“The potential implications of Dr Coll’s discovery for those living with these diseases are really quite exciting,” Ms Levin said.

“As the winner of our award dedicated to young researchers only five years out from their PhD, Dr Coll has certainly set herself up as ‘one to watch’.

“Research Australia is extremely proud to recognise Dr Coll for her work and we look forward to following the progress of this important area of research as it progresses towards the patient.”

Contacts: Gemma Ward, IMB Senior Communications Officer, 07 3346 2155, 0439 651 107,