Direct from Doug

Direct from Doug

Illuminate newsletter header, Winter 2022
June 2022
Welcome to the winter issue of Illuminate, filled with stories of exciting partnerships, research breakthroughs and dedicated people working to solve complex health problems.

Professor Doug Hilton
Professor Doug Hilton AO.

As we move into the colder months of the year, we are faced with persistent rates of COVID-19 infections combined with an increase in influenza cases.

Medical research has provided us with a number of effective COVID-19 vaccines, and new government advice indicates that people can now get a COVID-19 and flu vaccine at the same time.

I urge everyone to ensure that they are fully up to date with their vaccines for both COVID-19 and the flu.

The road to discovery

At WEHI, our scientists work towards the development of diagnostic tools, vaccines and treatments that transform lives for the better. This edition of Illuminate highlights some of the exciting steps in that process.

Our cover story explores the discovery of a missing ‘key’ in a process that is essential for life. The research resolves a decades-old problem that could reignite the search for drugs that target ion channel malfunction, to treat a range of diseases.

Meanwhile, WEHI researchers from myriad disciplines – including infectious diseases, immunology, bioinformatics and drug discovery – are contributing to a range of critical COVID-19 research projects.

Immeasurable support

Quality research is not possible without the incredible support from our community. To honour his late partner Wendy, Russell French established the Wendy Dowsett Scholarships, awarded annually to three outstanding WEHI PhD students.

Earlier this year, the Snow Medical Research Foundation awarded a prestigious $8 million fellowship to WEHI’s Dr Stephin Vervoort, to support his work investigating new treatment options for cancers such as leukaemia.

Extraordinary people

WEHI is fortunate in our ability to attract the brightest minds to tackle even the most intractable health challenges around us. For this month’s ‘Bright Sparks', PhD student Sabrina Lewis shares how a biomedical animation created by WEHI’s own Dr Drew Berry inspired her towards a career in medical science.

Our scientists are also building strong partnerships to forge medical breakthroughs. At the Colonial Foundation Healthy Ageing Centre, WEHI’s Associate Professor Andrew Webb and Royal Melbourne Hospital’s Associate Professor Cherie Chiang are collaborating to develop an early diagnosis test for dementia.

And an exciting four-year partnership between WEHI and leading science and technology company Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, will support a drug discovery campaign to find new cancer therapeutics for a range of hard-to-treat cancers.

Happy reading, stay safe and take care.

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Dr Stephin Vervoort photographed at WEHI

Dr Stephin Vervoort has received a prestigious fellowship from the Snow Medical Research Foundation to investigate new treatment options for cancers such as leukaemia.