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Direct from Doug

01 June 2023
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Introduction

I am delighted to introduce the Winter edition of Illuminate, filled with exciting research updates and stories about the incredible work happening at WEHI.

This edition features a significant advance in diabetes research, with our researchers visualising precisely how an insulin-mimicking molecule can reproduce the activity of insulin to regulate blood glucose levels. Their discovery offers critical insights for the future development of an oral insulin pill, which would be life changing for patients with Type 1 diabetes.

Collaborative research

In our feature story, we highlight a national research initiative led by Dr Kristy Shield-Artin and Professor Clare Scott AO that focuses on “super survivors” – people who have survived three or more different primary cancers in their lifetimes. Understanding what makes these patients different could offer critical insights into the diagnosis, treatment and even prevention of cancers more broadly.

In “Brighter together” we profile Dr Marjan Hadian-Jazi and Dr Richard Birkinshaw’s brilliant new collaboration in protein design. The duo is using artificial intelligence to imagine and create new proteins, with the backing of a WEHI Eve Mahlab Award for Blue Sky Research. Supported by a generous gift from the Mahlab family, these awards fund the most promising and innovative ideas from our postdoctoral researchers, advancing work that is right on the edge of what is possible.

Transformative impact

Postdoctoral researcher Dr Sophia Davidson shares what she loves about our elegant immune system and the unforgettable moment when her research helped transform a young child’s life, in our “Bright sparks” profile.

We share new findings that uncover a possible cause of neurodegeneration in the preclinical stages of Alzheimer’s disease, offering new pathways for the future development of treatments for cognitive diseases. We also feature a landmark discovery that has led to clinical trials of a new treatment for a rare and incurable blood cancer.

Power of sisterhood

It is an honour to feature the incredible sisters behind the Two Sisters Foundation, Ellie Rogers and Lisa Bardas, whose powerful and inspiring story is a highlight of this edition. We are deeply grateful for their generous support, which is accelerating WEHI’s breast cancer research program. We also profile former staff member, donor and bequestor, the late June Clapton, and recognise her many years of passionate commitment to WEHI.

As always, thank you to all of our donors and collaborators for your ongoing support. Together, we can make a difference and advance the urgently-needed research and discoveries that will help people live healthier, for longer. Happy reading, stay safe and take care,

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Illuminate Summer 2023
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