Scientific leaders honoured

Scientific leaders honoured

Illuminate newsletter index page, December 2019
December 2019

Professors Visvader and Lindeman
Professor Jane Visvader and Professor Geoff Lindeman
receiving the Susan G. Komen Brinker Award
at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium

Researchers Professor Geoff Lindeman and Professor Jane Visvader won the 2019 US Komen Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction in Basic Science for their world-leading breast cancer studies.

Their discoveries have led to a phase 3 clinical trial to prevent breast cancer in high-risk women with faulty BRCA1 genes.

Professor David Vaux AO and Professor Andreas Strasser were jointly awarded the 2019 CSL Florey Medal for establishing a new field of research – the molecular biology of programmed cell death.

Their breakthrough discoveries contributed to the development of new classes of medicines, including the anti-cancer medicine venetoclax which is now widely used to treat certain forms of leukaemia.

Pioneering cancer research

Professor Lindeman and Professor Visvader have spent more than 20 years unravelling the secrets of normal breast tissue growth and how breast cancers develop.

The pair were the first to identify and isolate breast stem cells – which helped to explain the origins of breast cancer. They also explained how female hormones affect breast cancer risk, and identified a pathway that could be targeted with existing drugs to prevent high-risk patients developing breast cancer.

Komen’s Chief Scientific Advisor Dr Jennifer Pietenpol said the organisation was excited to honour the research team.

“The basic science performed by this team has provided seminal knowledge to the field. Their discoveries and experimental models are being used for the design of strategies to treat and prevent breast cancer,” Dr Pietenpol said.

Established in 1992, the Brinker Awards for Scientific Distinction are the highest scientific honour awarded by Susan G Komen, the world’s leading breast cancer organisation.

Professor Andreas Strasser and Professor David Vaux
L-R Professor Andreas Strasser and Professor David Vaux
have been awarded the 2019 CSL Florey Medal for their
extensive research into cell death.

New treatment approaches

For three decades Professors Vaux and Strasser have made a series of landmark discoveries about how errors in the molecules controlling cell death can lead to disease, including cancers and autoimmune disorders.

Institute director Professor Doug Hilton AO said the researchers’ impact on medical research had been immense.

“Andreas and David’s fundamental research discoveries uncovered new therapeutic targets that could be attacked by drugs to force cancer cells to die,” Professor Hilton said.

Professor Vaux said he was delighted to share the award with his friend and colleague.

“This award recognises the fundamental importance of basic research, and how it can lead to unexpected but immensely important benefits," he said.

The CSL Florey Medal is awarded by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science to Australian biomedical researchers for significant lifetime achievements.



Super Content: 
Four researchers smiling at camera

The discovery and development of breakthrough anti-cancer drug venetoclax has seen four senior scientists from the Institute win the 2019 Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation.

Our scientists have discovered how dying cells are hidden from the immune ‘police’ that patrol the body.

Photo of large group of alumni members

Keep in contact and share reminiscences with fellow alumni