From the acting director

This article featured in Illuminate Newsletter Summer ‘23
Key Researchers
Deputy Director
Sections in this article
Prof Alan Cowman

This issue of Illuminate provides a glimpse into the exciting research being advanced by our dedicated scientists.

The announcement of the Snow Centre for Immune Health, which is featured on both the front and back pages, is a tremendous achievement for WEHI and wonderful recognition of our standing as a global leader in immune health research.

The new Centre, which will be led by WEHI in partnership with the Royal Melbourne Hospital, promises to transform immune health research, and should provide hope for the millions of people living with immunological disease in Australia and around the world.

The Centre has been made possible by an initial commitment of up to $100 million over 10 years from the Snow Medical Research Foundation, making it one of the largest and longest-standing philanthropic partnerships in Australian history. We are extremely grateful to the Snow Medical Research Foundation for their vision and generosity in supporting this critical research, and the next generation of science leaders.

We can’t wait to roll up our sleeves and get started. We look forward to bringing you more news about our cutting-edge immune health research in the months and years ahead.

Transformative technology

You may not have heard of spatial omics, but it’s an emerging technology that is revolutionising scientific discovery. Spatial omics allows our researchers to visualise and study cells in their natural location, providing critical information on how they interact. Our feature story takes a look at how WEHI researchers are using this technology to expand their horizons.

In “Brighter together” you will meet Professor Peter Gibbs and Professor Jeanne Tie who have partnered across the lab and the clinic to advance our understanding of the effectiveness of ‘liquid biopsy’ – blood tests that can screen for cancers before they cause any symptoms.

A WEHI-led global effort has made a key finding into facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD). By enhancing SMCHD1, a gene discovered at WEHI, researchers in the lab have been able to turn off the toxic protein that triggers FSHD. This progress offers hope for over 870,000 people affected by FSHD worldwide.

Bright sparks” profiles Dr Tahnee Saunders, a leading young researcher and recent recipient of a Parkinson’s Foundation fellowship. Discover how a first-of-its-kind partnership between WEHI and leading Indigenous not-for-profit DeadlyScience is inspiring First Nations students in science and STEM careers.

Finally in “Powered by philanthropy” we highlight how a world-first research project is giving us deeper genetic insights into prostate cancer, the most commonly diagnosed cancer among men.

Thanks for reading, and thanks as always for your support. It powers everything we do.

First published on 01 November 2023
This article featured in Illuminate Newsletter Summer ‘23
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