Dr Daniel Pellici, who will next month take up a group leader position with MCRI, has been awarded a $1.25 million, five-year, CSL Centenary Fellowship to research how to develop better vaccines against tuberculosis.
Dr Pellici was presented with a CSL Centenary Fellows certificate at an awards ceremony at the Melbourne Arts Centre on Thursday, 11th October.
His fellowship is funded through the $25 million CSL Centenary Fellowships program, which was established in 2016 to support mid-career Australian scientists to pursue world-class medical research.
Dr Pellici, who is currently with the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity at the University of Melbourne, wants to recruit specialist white blood cells, known as ‘unconventional T-cells’ in the fight against tuberculosis.
Dr Pellici explains that ‘unconventional T-cells’ are among the immune system’s first responders. They can kill infected cells and recruit other parts of the immune system to destroy the attackers.
Until now, these cells have been difficult to study but Dr Pellici has developed investigative tools to uncover the basic biology of how these cells work in the immune system.
“In the longer term, I think we’ll be able to develop potent lipid molecules to stimulate these cells to help fight various infectious diseases, plus other diseases that involve the immune system such as cancer, autoimmunity and allergies,” Dr Pellici said.
He will use his Fellowship to focus on people suffering from tuberculosis. He hopes his work will lead the way to an improved TB vaccine as well as other new immune therapies.
CSL Chief Scientific Officer Dr Andrew Cuthbertson said the CSL Centenary Fellowships aim to grow the quality and quantity of Australian biotech through well-funded, long-term support.
“Australian research has an excellent track record in new discoveries to address the world’s unmet medical needs,” Dr Cuthbertson said.
“The Fellows are a group of exceptionally bright young Australians, each with decades of research ahead of them, and who will become some of Australia’s pre-eminent scientists. We look forward to following their careers as they in turn lead and mentor a new generation of promising medical researchers.”