WA researchers rewarded for leading cancer and genetic disease research

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

The Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research (Perkins) in Perth has been awarded three of Australia’s most prestigious Research Fellowships from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Oliver Rackham, Aleksandra Filipovska and Alistair ForrestThe Fellowships are awarded to scientists aiming to find solutions to a wide range of health challenges including cancer, cardiovascular disease, stillbirths and mental health.

The Western Australian recipients are all internationally renowned medical research professors at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research.

Professor Alistair Forrest, a former Australian Eureka Prize recipient, will receive $717,275 over the next 5 years to continue his research in genetic screening of cancers.

His work establishing a world-class single-cell sequencing facility at the Perkins is set to place Western Australia at the forefront of advanced cancer research.

The facility will generate a molecular atlas of hundreds of cancer samples donated by patients - a resource which will help researchers uncover which genes are switched on and off in every cell within a tumour. 

Professor Aleksandra Filipovska received $792,275 for her work targeting mitochondrial dysfunction in cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Mitochondria are responsible for the production of more than 90% of the energy required by the cell. Therefore mitochondrial dysfunction can contribute significantly to a range of diseases including metabolic disorders, neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity and cancer.

Professor Filipovska will discover how mitochondrial function fails in these common diseases and develop treatments for these diseases targeting mitochondrial dysfunction.

Associate Professor Oliver Rackham will receive $649,175 over the next five years for his research in synthetic biology which enables molecules and cells to be programmed with new functions.

His laboratory is investigating genetic approaches for the discovery of new antibiotics and therapeutics to correct genetic diseases.

“For the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research to receive Western Australia’s only Research Fellowships is a significant achievement and testament to the quality of research carried out in WA’s premier Institute.

“The NHMRC has recognised the high standard of research conducted here in WA at the Perkins and has rewarded our three Laboratory Heads for investigating some of the most critical areas of research that will improve the health of people with the most serious illnesses in our community.

“For one institute to receive three of the 78 Research Fellowships issued nationally is a terrific achievement”, said Professor Peter Leedman, Director of the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research.

The Research Fellowships provide funding over the next 5 years for these leading researchers to make ground breaking molecular discoveries that provide the foundation for effective diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases.

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