Perkins medical entrepreneur wins 40under40

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research Director Professor Peter Leedman congratulates Perkins researcher, Associate Professor Kevin Pfleger for winning the Intrapreneur category, as well as receiving the coveted City of Perth Strategic Alliance Award at the Business News 40under40 Awards in Perth on Wednesday 8 March.

Associate Professor Kevin Pfleger

Associate Professor Pfleger received the awards for his commitment to developing better medicines with fewer side-effects, and for his leadership emboldening medical researchers nationwide to progress their discoveries into new treatments.

“Kevin Pfleger is an outstanding award-winning Perkins researcher whose discoveries are attracting the attention of major international pharmaceutical companies and are being trialled in patients in Australia,” he said.

Associate Professor Pfleger’s work focuses on developing better treatments for a wide range of diseases by looking, in a novel way, at molecules on cell membranes and how they interact with each other.

“My research has enormous potential to change the lives of those suffering from conditions such as chronic kidney disease,” Associate Professor Pfleger said. “In fact, it has implications as broadly as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, the three major focuses of the Perkins.”

In 2011 he won the Eureka Prize for Emerging Leader in Science, the ‘Eurekas’ being the most coveted science awards in Australia. In 2006 Associate Professor Pfleger co-invented a new approach to enable researchers to better understand how hormones, neurotransmitters and medicines work on the cells of our body, allowing for the development of more effective treatments with fewer side effects.

“One of my most significant career achievements is the success of Dimerix Limited, a spin-out company from my laboratory’s work at the Perkins. Dimerix’s remit includes the commercialisation of a patented new combination therapy to treat kidney disease, which is currently progressing well through Phase 2 clinical trials.”

Chronic Kidney Disease is a major world health concern, with 82,000 Western Australians currently affected, many of whom may need kidney transplants if their condition is not effectively treated.

Associate Professor Pfleger said that while cutting edge science had always been a motivating force, he also works hard to create opportunities for other medical researchers.

“I’m passionate about helping my fellow scientists by facilitating a network of mentors that accelerate the transition of discoveries in the laboratory to treatments for the community,” Professor Pfleger said.

“I’m championing a shared vision and I’ve been entrusted to lead a drive to collaborate much more closely, across the state and the country, an initiative we are calling ‘Accelerating Australia’. I believe collaboration is essential because the competition is not each other, it is disease and ill health.”

Associate Professor Pfleger was selected from a very impressive group of contenders, all young leaders in diverse fields, ranging from technology to mining to agriculture and more.


  • 2009 Western Australian Young Scientist of the Year
  • NHMRC 10 of the Best Research Projects 2010
  • 2011 Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Emerging Leader in Science
  • 2012 The Endocrine Society Early Investigators Award and the WA Young Tall Poppy Science Award
  • 2014 Endocrine Society of Australia's Mid-Career Research Award and an NHMRC Research Excellence Award for the top ranked fellowship application in his category
  • 2015 UWA Vice Chancellor's Mid-Career Research Award
  • 2016 Novartis Prize of the British Pharmacological Society
  • Currently Chair of the Australasian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacologists and Toxicologists (ASCEPT) Scientific Advisory Committee.

Learn more about Associate Professor Kevin Pfleger here.

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