$1million grant for bio-medical research

LIMS Professor of Biochemistry and Charles La Trobe Fellow, Marilyn Anderson, has been awarded a $1million research grant in conjunction with The University of Queensland (UQ).

LIMS Professor of Biochemistry and Charles La Trobe Fellow, Marilyn Anderson, has been awarded a $1million research grant in conjunction with The University of Queensland (UQ).

At last Tuesday's awards night, the Ramaciotti Foundation awarded Professor Anderson and and her UQ colleague Professor David Craik the prestigious, biennial Ramaciotti Biomedical Research Award, worth $1 million.

The award will support Professor's Craik and Anderson to establish the Clive and Vera Ramaciotti Facility (CVRF) for Producing Pharmaceuticals in Plants. The CVRF will be a state-of-the-art facility to develop technologies to produce potent next-generation medicines inexpensively. The new drugs may even be incorporated into novel plant products such as bio-pills (seeds), medicinal teas and foods, potentially improving the lives of patients who cannot afford current medications or cannot tolerate the side effects.

"There were more than 40 applicants for this generous award so it's very competitive. We were so excited to receive it," Professor Anderson said.

"As far as we know it is the first time the award has come to either La Trobe or UQ. It is the reward for a very long and productive collaboration that has been supported by continuous ARC funding for 20 years."

Professor Craik said the award meant many exciting possibilities for research.

"We are thrilled to receive the Ramaciotti Biomedical Research Award for our work on using plants as 'biofactories' for producing next-generation pharmaceuticals," said Professor Craik.

"This research has great potential to provide medicines inexpensively to patients in both the developed and developing worlds. However, this type of blue sky research falls outside the realm of work typically funded by government or industry so we are particularly grateful to the Ramaciotti Foundations for their support."

Professor Derek Hart of The University of Sydney led the Scientific Advisory Committee that selected the grant recipients.

On the work of Professors Craik and Anderson, Professor Hart said: "Some science just captures your imagination. The concept of a new type of drug called cyclic peptides that could be produced in plants was irresistible to the Committee and we hope that this early recognition and funding will make a big difference."

Professor Craik grew up in Reservoir and completed both his Undergraduate and PhD degrees at La Trobe University. He was the top student in chemistry in his honours year and is a distinguished alumnus of La Trobe University.

Professor Anderson has worked extensively on defence molecules produced by plants for protection against insect pests and fungal pathogens and, together with our Chancellor Professor Adrienne Clarke, founded the biotechnology company Hexima which is located on the Bundoora Campus.

See also: Study reveals potent new anti-cancer protein

Media contact:

Leah Humphrys, Media and Communications Officer

03 9479 5353 / l.humphrys@latrobe.edu.au


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