MCRI scientists recognised for their outstanding contributions to medical research

Institute News
Published: 
Thursday, June 28, 2018 - 9:46am

Two MCRI researchers have been recognised by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) with prestigious research excellence awards.

Professor Melissa Little, Director of MCRI’s Cell Biology theme, was presented with the Elizabeth Blackburn Fellowship, Australia’s top award for a woman in biomedical science. The Elizabeth Blackburn Fellowship is named after Professor Blackburn, an Australian scientist who received a Nobel Laureate for her groundbreaking work on chromosomes in 2009.

Prof Little is internationally-renowned for her research on kidney development and her pioneering studies into renal regeneration, which have the potential to change the lives of people with kidney disease.

Prof Little’s acclaimed work includes growing ‘mini kidneys’ from human stem cells in the laboratory. This breakthrough has paved the way for researchers across the globe to use this method for drug screening and disease modelling. With one in 10 Australians living with kidney disease, Prof Little’s ultimate goal is to use the mini kidney model to recreate a human kidney from stem cells.

Dr Amanda Gwee, PhD Student within MCRI’s Infectious Diseases & Microbiology research group, was awarded the Gustav Nossal Award, which is named in honour of Sir Gustav Nossal and his pioneering work in the field of immunology. It is awarded to the highest ranked applicant for an NHMRC Postgraduate Scholarship in the field of medical and dental research.

Through her research, Dr Gwee is working to improve the treatment of neonatal sepsis. Her work involves examining two different ways of administering the vancomycin antibiotic to newborns as well as studying how much of this drug is needed to effectively treat infections. Dr Gwee hopes her studies will enable first-line antibiotics to be useful for longer and ensure newborns are getting the best possible medical care.

Her findings will ultimately lead to a standardised dosing method for vancomycin in newborns as well as the development of a widely available dosing tool to ensure all newborns receive the optimal dosage.

Congratulations to both Prof Little and Dr Gwee for this outstanding achievement!