Direct from Doug

Direct from Doug

Illuminate newsletter header, Summer 21/22
December 2021

Professor Doug Hilton
Professor Doug Hilton AO.

Welcome to the summer edition of Illuminate.

As 2021 draws to a close, life is slowly returning to the ‘new normal’ for many of us in Australia, with vaccination numbers climbing and restrictions easing.

While we will be eager to celebrate our hard-won freedoms, the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, both in Australia and beyond our borders. It’s a sobering reminder that the need for impactful medical research is as urgent as ever.

New partnerships

Since the last issue of Illuminate, we have announced some exciting new initiatives that will help us to make leaps forward in treating disease. In October we launched The Brain Cancer Centre, a partnership between Carrie’s Beanies 4 Brain Cancer and WEHI to end brain cancer as a terminal illness. The centre will bring together the brightest brain cancer researchers from the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct and provide the momentum, funding and innovation to make a tangible difference in the lives of people with brain cancer, now and into the future.

We also announced a partnership with CSL to establish the Centre for Biologic Therapies, generating high-quality and clinic-ready therapeutic antibodies against novel targets in human disease. The centre combines WEHI’s expertise in immunology, cancer, inflammatory disorders and infectious diseases with CSL’s world-class human antibody library and experience in biologic drug discovery and development. Based at WEHI, the centre will accelerate drug development into the clinic, ultimately addressing a gap in Australian medical research.  

Partnerships have also extended into our engagement with the wider community, with our annual Art of Science exhibition, which was held online for the first time. The move allowed us to partner with Melbourne icons the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and guest judge Lisa Gorman, creative director and founder of Gorman. The exhibition can be viewed at

Awards and honours

Congratulations to the researchers who were successful in the most recent round of National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Ideas Grants. I was thrilled to see six women researchers leading successful grants at WEHI, including three early-career researchers. 

This funding allows researchers to progress bold ideas that will be the discoveries of the future. 

I wish to extend commiserations to the many excellent researchers who unfortunately missed out in this round. 

I would also like to congratulate several WEHI researchers who received awards. Associate Professor James Murphy won the Australia and New Zealand Society for Cell and Developmental Biology (ANZSCDB) Emerging Leader Award; Dr Stephin Vervoort won a 2022 CSL Centenary Fellowship; and Professors Jerry Adams, Suzanne Cory and David Huang were elected fellows of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences. And congratulations to Dr Najoua Lalaoui and Dr Shalin Naik who won WEHI’s top science award, the Burnet Prize, for their pioneering research.

I would like to wish you all a happy and healthy festive season – stay safe and well.

Super Content: 
The Brain Cancer Centre logo

Carrie’s Beanies 4 Brain Cancer and WEHI have partnered to establish The Brain Cancer Centre.  

The Brain Cancer Centre will bring together Australia’s brightest medical research minds to end brain cancer as a terminal illness.  

An annual exhibition showcasing the amazing images created and captured by WEHI scientists.