Top award for researcher in biology

La Trobe researcher wins Academy’s top award for research in the biological sciences

David VauxProfessor David Vaux of La Trobe University has been awarded the Macfarlane Burnet Medal and Lecture by the Australian Academy of Science.  This biennial award recognises scientific research of the highest standing in the biological sciences.

Professor Vaux – a National Health and Medical Research Council Australia Fellow in the University’s Department of Biochemistry – won the Macfarlane Burnet Medal for research on the molecular mechanisms by which cells kill themselves.

As part of the award he will deliver the Academy’s prestigious Biennial Macfarlane Burnet Lecture next year.

‘Every second, a million cells in our bodies commit suicide,’ he says. ‘If cells fail to die, they can accumulate to eventually become cancers.’

With his colleagues at La Trobe, in particular Dr John Silke and Dr James Vince, Professor Vaux is looking at proteins known as Inhibitors of Apoptosis (IAPs).

‘Just as IAPs in insects regulate cell death during metamorphosis, IAPs regulate cell death in humans,’ he says.

This work on IAPs has underpinned the development of a novel group of compounds currently undergoing clinical trials in humans for the treatment of cancer.

Professor Vaux can be contacted on Tel: 03 9479 2211, Email:

For further background on his work see:

Further information on the awards and recipients can be found at: