Research achievements recognised by Academy of Health and Medical Sciences

06 October 2016
Key Researchers
AAHMS award recipients 2016
(L-R) Professor Ian Wicks, Professor Jane Visvader,
Professor Benjamin Kile and ​Professor Andreas Strasser.
The research contributions of four Walter and Eliza Hall Institute scientists to cancer, blood disorders and immune diseases have been recognised tonight by the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences (AAHMS).

The AAHMS named Professor Ian Wicks, Professor Jane Visvader, Professor Andreas Strasser and Professor Benjamin Kile among the 50 new fellows elected in 2016 for their outstanding leadership and distinguished professional achievements. The AAMHS was established to promote health and medical research and its translation to enable a healthier community both in Australia and globally.

Professor Ian Wicks is a clinician scientist who is head of the Rheumatology Unit at The Royal Melbourne Hospital as well as leading the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute’s Inflammation division. His research into inflammatory diseases including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus has led to the identification of new approaches for treating these conditions. His election reflects both his achievements in translational and clinical research, including at The Royal Melbourne Hospital, as well as his contributions to teaching, training and peer review of research.

Breast cancer researcher Professor Jane Visvader, who is joint head of the Institute’s ACRF Stem Cells and Cancer division, was recognised for leading many breakthroughs in understanding how breast cells develop, and how defects in this process lead to cancer. Professor Visvader’s research has also underpinned clinical trials into new approaches to preventing and treating certain forms of breast cancer.

Professor Andreas Strasser is joint head of the Institute’s Molecular Genetics of Cancer division. He is recognised as a world leader in cancer and immunology, with a particular focus on how defects in programmed cell death (apoptosis) cause cancer and affect the therapeutic responses of malignant tumour cells. His research contributes to the development of new anti-cancer therapies.

Professor Benjamin Kile is a blood cell researcher and joint head of the Institute’s ACRF Chemical Biology division. Professor Kile was recognised for his discoveries in the function of blood clotting cells called platelets, as well as deciphering the complex processes of blood cell formation, cancer development, cell suicide and inflammation. His election also acknowledges his contributions to shaping health and medical sciences in Australia through his involvement in a range of research committees.

Professor Doug Hilton, Institute director and a fellow of the AAHMS, said the Institute’s new appointees represented the depth of translational research at the Institute. “Our researchers investigate complex biological processes with the ultimate goal of improving health,” he said.

“Jane, Ian, Andreas and Ben are fantastic examples of the potential of Australian medical research to impact health, and they are all worthy members of the AAHMS.

“Ian’s dual role at The Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Institute has enabled him to make seminal laboratory and clinical discoveries in a range of inflammatory diseases. His research has led to potential new therapies that are in clinical trials for complex and devastating inflammatory diseases. Andreas, Jane and Ben are also outstanding researchers who have collaborated widely, laying frameworks for translating basic discoveries to the clinic,” Professor Hilton said.

Professors Wicks, Visvader, Strasser and Kile join seven other Institute faculty who have been elected as fellows of the AAHMS since its establishment in 2015.

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