November saw two of our CIs awarded with prestigious prizes. Brian Abbey was the 2016 recipient of the Young Tall Poppy Science Award and Jamie Rossjohn, along with his longtime collaborator, Jim McCluskey, were awarded the 2016 Victoria Prize for their substantial and sustained contributions to our understanding of the human immune system.
“I was very grateful to be a recipient of the 2016 Young Tall Poppy Science Award,” Brian said. “The award is not only given based on research, but also for science communication and outreach.”
Since the start of the Imaging CoE, Brian has been part of some fantastic breakthroughs in X-ray physics, while maintaining a strong interest in promoting physics and science education in general.
“I have been involved in three great programs to promote the sciences: the Growing Tall Poppies program, I’ve given numerous lectures to local high schools and I’ve participated heavily in La Trobe University’s FARlabs project, which aims to deliver remote access to university laboratories.”
Brian hopes that through these activities and more he has assisted in some small measure in creating the next generation of young tall poppies.
During their 15-year collaboration, Rossjohn and McCluskey have co-published over 125 research papers, translated their research for improved health outcomes, and mentored a large number of next generation researchers.
The pair are known for their contributions to the understanding of the molecular basis underpinning the immune response to infectious disease, transplanted organs, autoimmune reactions, drug hypersensitivity and celiac disease. Their research has both fundamental and clinical importance in understanding both infection and immunity.
“Forward-thinking investment by the Victorian Government has really propelled our health and medical research, and helped us compete with the best in the world in a sustained manner,” Professor Rossjohn said.
“When I completed my PhD in 1994, available computing power was a fraction of that of the smartphone now in my pocket. It essentially took the entire duration of a PhD to determine a protein structure, which is essential to understanding disease. However, now, with the advancement of technologies, research progress in this vital area of biomedical science can be much more rapid,” he explained.
“Having the Australian Synchrotron on our doorstep has allowed me and my team to solve over 200 molecular structures, enabling us to make leaps forward in understanding difficult-to-treat human diseases and devise better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat them,” Professor Rossjohn said.
Professors Rossjohn and McCluskey note that their success is concomitant with significant investments in infrastructure from Monash and Melbourne Universities, along with the State of Victoria.
“The University of Melbourne has invested in state of the art flow cytometry facilities and other platform technologies in the Doherty Institute and Bio21 Institute,” Professor McCluskey said. “And Monash has invested in sophisticated imaging platforms, including crystallisation robotics forming part of the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute,” he added.
“Across our state, the combination of clinicians, medical researchers, cutting-edge laboratories, biomedical companies and landmark research infrastructure provides an amazing and seamless network of moving parts dedicated to finding new and better ways of treating the diseases that affect so many Victorians,” Professor McCluskey concluded.
Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute
Committed to making the discoveries that will relieve the future burden of disease, the newly established Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University brings together more than 100 internationally-renowned research teams. Our researchers are supported by world-class technology and infrastructure, and partner with industry, clinicians and researchers internationally to enhance lives through discovery.