Researchers take out top prizes in science

PM Prize
Back row left to right: Professor Guillaume Lessene, Professor Andrew Roberts, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews, Professor David Huang, Dr Luke Campbell. Front row left to right: Associate Professor Elizabeth New, Dr Samantha Moyle, Mrs Sarah Finney, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Emeritus Professor Cheryl Praeger, Associate Professor Laura Mackay, Associate Professor Peter Czabotar.

University of Melbourne and Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researchers have been recognised for their achievements in science and innovation, taking out three top awards in the prestigious Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science.

Peter Doherty Institute Associate Professor Laura Mackay was awarded the Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year for identifying immune cells that protect against both infection and cancer.

A team at WEHI – Associate Professor Peter Czabotar, Professor David Huang, Professor Guillaume Lessene and Professor Andrew Roberts – received the Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation for their roles in the invention and development of venetoclax, an effective breakthrough anti-cancer drug. The work builds on decades of fundamental science in understanding the control of cell death and survivial.

Dr Luke Campbell, an alumnus of the Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP) in the Melbourne Entrepreneurial Centre was awarded the Prize for New Innovators for inventing and commercialising nuraphone – headphones that learn and adapt to an individual’s specific hearing. The MAP program has been supported by senior business leaders and innovators drawn from the wider University community to encourage an entrepreneurial culture, provide advice and offer mentorship to young innovators such as Dr Campbell.

University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Professor Duncan Maskell said: “The prizes particularly highlight the commitment of the University and its partners to fundamental discovery research coupled with translation into outcomes that benefit the community. I congratulate the winners on their fine achievements.”

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Jim McCluskey said: “Our University and its partners in the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct are home to some of the most talented researchers in the country. We congratulate our winners on taking out three of the top prizes in the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science.

“From transformative and life-changing research in infection and cancer to leading scientific innovation in hearing technology, it is wonderful to see them receive recognition for their work, which has benefits for the global community.”