-

Blue Sky Thinking

Introducing the 2023 Jenny Tatchell Awards for Blue Sky Research 

A long-term partnership

Jenny Tatchell has been a steadfast supporter of WEHI’s research for almost two decades, demonstrating a profound commitment to backing both outstanding female scientists and promising research initiatives. A former nurse, Jenny was initially interested in supporting research in ovarian cancer due to a personal connection: her mother died of the disease. But since learning about the range of critical areas in focus at WEHI, Jenny has been open to backing the research that is in the greatest need of support.

Jenny’s dedication and passion for advancing medical research was shared with her late partner, Pauline Speedy. Together, they have empowered WEHI scientists to make medical discoveries that have saved and improved the lives of countless individuals around the world. Although Pauline sadly passed away in 2016, her generous bequest continues to support research at WEHI via the Pauline Speedy Innovation Grant and a PhD scholarship.

Jenny Tatchell (centre) with 2023 Jenny Tatchell Awards recipients Dr Viacheslav “These ideas may be our future. I hope the winners are able to develop them, within the wonderful WEHI environment.” (left) and Dr Zhen Xu (right).
Above: Jenny Tatchell (centre) with 2023 Jenny Tatchell Awards recipients Dr Viacheslav Kriachkov (left) and Dr Zhen Xu (right).
2023 Jenny Tatchell Awards recipients (L to R): Dr Tom Weber, Dr Esther Bandala Sanchez, Jenny Tatchell, Dr Caleb Dawson. Absent: Dr Aurelie Dawson.
Above: 2023 Jenny Tatchell Awards recipients (L to R): Dr Tom Weber, Dr Esther Bandala Sanchez, Jenny Tatchell, Dr Caleb Dawson. Absent: Dr Aurelie Dawson.

Supporting innovation and growth

In 2023, Jenny became the patron of the Blue Sky Research awards. This initiative funds the most compelling and promising blue-sky ideas from WEHI postdoctoral researchers. WEHI matched Jenny’s gift, with two $35,000 prizes made available in 2023.

Applicants for the Jenny Tatchell Awards for Blue Sky Research must showcase originality and strength in their ideas, propose solutions with depth and viability, and integrate considerations of sex and gender into their project designs. The inclusion of feasible budgets and timelines is also essential, emphasising the practicality and potential impact of the proposed research. A panel of assessors selected eight finalists who presented their exciting ideas at a pitch event with two teams winning the 2023 awards.

Researchers Dr Caleb Dawson, Dr Esther Bandala Sanchez, Dr Aurelie Dawson and Dr Tom Weber received a Jenny Tatchell Award for Blue Sky Research for their project focusing on cell-to-cell communication. Their goal is to understand and explore the signalling processes in cells. They aim to develop a tool that can reveal how each message or signal sent by one cell affects another cell, all in one experiment.

The second 2023 Jenny Tatchell Award for Blue Sky Research went to Dr Viacheslav Kriachkov and Dr Zhen Xu, whose research will examine whether changes in the body’s cell DNA can help us better understand autoimmune genetics. The winning teams will undertake their projects in 2024.

“I’m interested in innovative, feasible and peer- appraised ideas,” Jenny said.

“These ideas may be our future. I hope the winners are able to develop them, within the wonderful WEHI environment.”
– Jenny Tatchell

The Jenny Tatchell Awards for Blue Sky Research stand as a testament to the transformative power of philanthropy and collaboration in the world of medical research. Through initiatives like these, the impact of support from individuals like Jenny Tatchell and Pauline Speedy resonate, leaving an indelible mark on the scientists and the discoveries they are able to make.

Jenny Tatchell (fourth from left) with winners of the 2023 Jenny Tatchell Awards for Blue Sky Research, Dr Caleb Dawson, Dr Esther Bandala Sanchez, Dr Tom Weber, Dr Viacheslav Kriachkov and Dr Zhen Xu. Absent: Dr Aurelie Dawson.

Ways you can support WEHI

Sign up to our quarterly newsletter Illuminate

Find out about recent discoveries, community supporters and more.

Illuminate Summer 2023
View the current issue