Opposition leader visits the institute

03 November 2014
Mr Tony Abbott, Mr Peter Dutton and Dr Peter Czabotar in a laboratory
Dr Peter Czabotor (right) talks to Mr Abbott (left)
and Mr Dutton about how his studies of cell death
proteins may help to discover new anti-cancer
Opposition leader Mr Tony Abbott MHR has visited Melbourne’s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research to learn more about the institute’s research and how it will improve the lives of patients and streamline translation of discoveries to the clinic.

Mr Abbott and Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing Mr Peter Dutton MP toured the institute’s new $185 million facility, which was officially opened last year, doubling the size of the institute. The facility was jointly supported by capital funding from the Australian Government, Victorian Government and The Atlantic Philanthropies.

As part of their visit, Mr Abbott and Mr Dutton met with several researchers from the institute’s Structural Biology division, who explained how their work would benefit people with diseases including cancer, diabetes and immune disorders.

Cancer and cell death researcher Dr Peter Czabotar showed Mr Abbott and Mr Dutton how his team are studying programmed cell death to help discover potential new anti-cancer agents, using sophisticated technologies to ‘visualise’ the three-dimensionsal structure of cell death proteins at an atomic scale. Understanding how molecules bind and interact with this precision is essential for developing new drugs to treat diseases characterised by too much, or too little, cell death, including cancers, heart disease and stroke.

Mr Abbott and Mr Dutton also spoke with diabetes researcher Associate Professor Mike Lawrence about his recent studies on insulin and how it binds to its receptor on cells in the body. Associate Professor Lawrence said that his research could lead to the development of improved types of insulin for treating diabetes.

During his visit, Mr Abbott took the opportunity to reaffirm the Coalition’s commitment to protecting medical research funding.

“It really does make me very proud to be at a world-leading institute like this,” Mr Abbott said. “We’re going to improve the administration of our national health and medical research grant process so that our world-beating researchers spend more time in a laboratory and less time at their desk doing paperwork.

“We will ensure that there are longer terms to research grants so that our world-beating researchers can make the most of their talents for the benefit of patients here and right around the world.”

Deputy director Professor David Vaux said he was pleased to show Mr Abbott and Mr Dutton around the institute’s new building and how the institute’s researchers are working to improve the lives of the community.

“We are happy that Mr Abbott and Mr Dutton chose to visit the institute to meet our scientists who are working hard to find new and improved treatments for the diseases that are such a burden on the community, such as cancers, immune disorders and infectious diseases,” Professor Vaux said.

“We also welcome the Coalition’s commitment to protect medical research funding, and were glad to hear that Mr Abbott would like to streamline the grant application process so scientists can use their talents doing research rather than paperwork.”

Further information:

Liz Williams
Media and Publications Manager
P: +61 3 9345 2928
M: +61 428 034 089
E: williams@wehi.edu.au

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