World-renowned scientists from Australia’s largest child health research institute – the Murdoch Children's Research Institute – have opened up about their lives and work to mark the Institute’s 30th anniversary in 2016.
Allergy, stem cell and genetics experts are among those put in the spotlight as part of the campaign which celebrates the scientists behind ground breaking discoveries that have changed the lives of children in Australia and around the world.
“For the Institute’s 30th anniversary we are celebrating some of our brightest and most talented minds and showcasing our greatest achievements,” said Murdoch Children's Director, Professor Kathryn North.
“Our scientists are often the unsung heroes but I believe they are the rock stars of research who deserve to be celebrated for their achievements and contribution to child health worldwide.
“Its not often medical researchers themselves are in the spotlight, instead letting their discoveries make headlines.
“That is why we’ve profiled scientists from across the Institute – from the global experts, clinician-researchers, laboratory scientists, research veterans, to up-and-comers – to showcase the breadth and depth of talent working at the Murdoch Childrens.”
The Institute’s researchers include the team who discovered rotavirus, Professor Ruth Bishop and her colleague of 40 years Professor Graeme Barnes. Rotavirus vaccines were developed following Professor Bishop’s 1973 discovery but the gastroenteritis disease still kills almost 500,000 children a year. A new vaccine developed by the Institute is in the final stages of clinical trials and promises to save even more lives.
Professor Melissa Little has also made waves internationally following the successful creation of mini-kidneys grown in a dish from stem cells. These miniature organs have huge promise as they could potentially be used to screen drugs to treat kidney disease.
Also featured are world-leading allergists, Professors Katie Allen and Mimi Tang. The former is unravelling the mystery behind the rise in food allergies while Tang led a successful peanut allergy trial, which could potentially provide a long term cure for all allergy sufferers.
“It is just a wonderful feeling that we have made a difference, finally,” Professor Tang said. “That’s what medical research is all about. We all want to make a difference.”
Researchers behind sophisticated brain imaging technology transforming epilepsy surgery are also featured, along with the inventor of an inhalable vaccine device and research developments into diabetes, autism and cancer. The campaign also highlights the Murdoch Children's’ leading public health research devoted to the wellbeing of new mothers, babies’
sleep and childhood language development.
Established in 1986, the Institute attracts the brightest home grown and international researchers. Its unique position alongside The Royal Children’s Hospital allows world-leading clinicians to continue treating patients while conducting their research.
It’s a coveted place to work and the Institute continues to draw scientists from all over the world.
The 30th anniversary not only celebrates the Institute’s past discoveries but points to its position as a world-leading centre of research for the future, in areas such as genomics and personalised medicine, adolescent health and obesity.
“At the Institute, children are at the heart of everything we do and we know that our work makes a difference to young lives worldwide,” Professor North said.
Several patients who have benefited from the Institute’s research are profiled alongside the researchers.
The 30 Year anniversary celebrations commence from May 18 until the end of 2016.