Melbourne scientists dominate international Howard Hughes Medical Institute awards

Amid tough global competition, Melbourne has again confirmed its position as Australia's pre-eminent biomedical destination by securing almost 20% of the prestigious worldwide medical research awards announced by the US-based Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).

Eight Melbourne scientists including six from The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) have today been named HHMI International Research Scholars. Each scientist will receive a five-year research grant of between AUD$466,000.00 and $666,000.00.

Nearly 500 scientists from 62 countries applied for the awards, which were eventually made to 42 scientists in 20 countries including the eight in Melbourne, the only Australian city to receive awards apart from one award shared with Hobart.

The HHMI is awarding a total of AUD$23.3 million worldwide to tackle infectious and parasitic diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, haemorrhagic fevers and anthrax. The objective is to stimulate international efforts to understand the underlying mechanisms of diseases, to help identify potential new drug targets and to develop vaccines.

In Washington, DC, HHMI President, Thomas R. Cech, says, "Through its international program, HHMI is supporting scientists of the highest quality in their home countries. We also bring these international scholars together with each other and with other scientists in the HHMI community to create an international network of scientific excellence."

Malaria expert Professor Alan Cowman, Head of the Infection and Immunity Division at The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, says, "On a world scale, these awards from the HHMI demonstrate the tremendous strength of basic biomedical research in Melbourne and at WEHI in particular. The funds granted will accelerate our search for more effective drugs and vaccines for malaria, which infects and debilitates about 10% of humanity and kills around 2 million people every year."


Contact: Brad Allen
Research Australia

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