The Ramaciotti Foundations are pleased to announce the 2021 Ramaciotti Award recipients. In 2021 over $1.9 million was granted to support biomedical research in Australia through the Ramaciotti Biomedical Research Award, The Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research and nine Ramaciotti Health Investment Grants.
2021 Ramaciotti Biomedical Research Award
Image of Uni of Sydney team (Courtesy of University of Sydney), Left to right – Prof Alistair McEwan, Dr Omid Kavehei, Dr Orsolya Kekesi, Prof Gregg Suaning, Prof Jonathan Clark AM.
The University of Sydney’s Professor Gregg Suaning and his world class team are the 2021 recipients of the biennial Ramaciotti Biomedical Research Award.
The $1 million Ramaciotti grant will be used to translate life-changing implantable bionic devices into clinical practice.
The funding will support the following four flagship research programs in bionic devices, as well as essential personnel:
- vision restoration to the blind,
- muscle rehabilitation for children affected by cerebral palsy,
- seizure detection and suppression for people with epilepsy, and
- blink reanimation for people affected by facial paralysis.
The award will enable the team to realise the translation and advancement of the four different implantable devices into clinical practice, restoring productive lives to people affected by incurable diseases.
2021 Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research
Image of Prof Georgina Long (Medal recipient). Courtesy of Prof Georgina Long.
Professor Georgina Long is the recipient of the 2021 Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence, a $50,000 award.
Professor Long has been recognised for her pioneering work in immunotherapy in melanoma, transforming the care of melanoma patients worldwide and tripling survival rates for patients with advanced cases. Her work has led to the discovery of new effective drug therapies which are now also being applied to patients with other forms of cancer.
Professor Long is the Co-Medical Director of the Melanoma Institute of Australia (MIA) and Chair of Melanoma Medical Oncology and Translational Research at MIA and Royal North Shore Hospital, The University of Sydney. Professor Long was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australian in 2020. She leads an extensive clinical trials team and laboratory, focusing on novel drug therapies for melanoma patients and is the principal investigator on numerous phase I/II/III international clinical trials for the field. She has also developed and leads the TEAM (Treat-excise-analyse-melanoma) translational platform, an essential foundation for cutting edge work on understanding mechanisms for why drugs are effective in some patients but not in others.
2021 RAMACIOTTI HEALTH INVESTMENT GRANTSView the list of 2021 Ramaciotti Health Investment Grant recipients.
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RAMACIOTTI HEALTH INVESTMENT GRANTS
Ramaciotti Health Investment grants of up to $100,000 are awarded to individuals in universities, public hospitals or institutes for a contribution towards the undertaking of health or medical research with the potential path to clinical application within five years. A Health Investment grant is intended to provide enabling research support for an autonomous early career investigator who is taking, or has recently taken, a substantive position.
Grants are awarded by Perpetual, Trustee of the Foundations, on the recommendation of a dedicated Scientific Advisory Committee.
RAMACIOTTI MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE IN BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH
The Ramaciotti Medal is an annual award of $50,000. The Medal honours an individual who has made an outstanding discovery (or discoveries) in clinical or experimental biomedical research that has had an important impact on biomedical science, clinical science, or the way in which healthcare is delivered.
To be eligible for the Ramaciotti Medal, the greater part of the nominee's work leading to the discovery (or discoveries) must have been conducted in Australia and they must still be actively engaged in this work.
The applicant must be peer nominated and the final recipient is selected based on a recommendation by the Ramaciotti Foundations Scientific Advisory Committee to Perpetual. Many past winners are highly regarded individuals in the top echelon of the biomedical research industry.
RAMACIOTTI BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH AWARD
This $1 million grant is awarded every two years to a group or individual undertaking biomedical research within universities, public hospitals, medical research institutes or other similar organisations.
The award funds projects including personnel, equipment, major infrastructure improvements or new laboratories that help an existing, well-funded program of research or enable a major new program to begin. Traditionally, it funds a need that would not attract funding elsewhere.
The Ramaciotti Scientific Advisory Committee helps Perpetual select the winner from nominations received.
The 2021 Ramaciotti Biomedical research award was granted to an organisation based in NSW. The next Biomedical Research Award will be offered in 2023 to an organisation based outside of NSW.
The biennial Ramaciotti Biomedical Research Award, worth $1 million, has been granted to Professor Heidi Smith-Vaughan and her team at Menzies School of Health Research. The funding will be used to construct the Ramaciotti Centre for Excellence in Building Regional and Remote Biomedical Capability.
The Centre will lead the way in developing a sustainable, local and Indigenous biomedical workforce in regional and remote northern Australia and will facilitate biomedical career progression for regional and remote youth, with a focus on career development for Indigenous youth.
The biennial Ramaciotti Biomedical Research Award, worth $1 million, has been granted to a team at The University of New South Wales focused on Systems Microscopy. Professor Katharina Gaus, Professor Peter Gunning, Dr John Lock and Dr Renee Whan will leverage this funding to establish the Ramaciotti Foundations Systems Microscopy Facility at UNSW, the first facility dedicated to Systems Microscopy in Australia. Systems Microscopy is establishing a new gold-standard in biomedical research. It combines state-of-the-art imaging of individual molecules and single cells with complex biological systems, delivering transformative insights into human health and disease to inform improved diagnostics and therapies in cancer, immunology, neuroscience, metabolic disorders and regenerative medicine.
The biennial Ramaciotti Biomedical Research Award, worth $1 million, has been granted to Professor David Craik of The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience and Professor Marilyn Anderson of the La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science, La Trobe University.
The award will support Professors 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.
Centenary Institute's Cytometry research program (CyTOF), led by Professor Barbara Fazekas de St Groth and Dr Adrian Smith in collaboration with Professor Nicholas King from University of Sydney, is the recipient of the bi-annual $1million Ramaciotti Biomedical Research Award.
CyTOF is a cutting edge technology that can test a single cell, blood or other, for up to 100 different characteristics, more than five times the number currently allowed by laser technology using fluorescence detection. Its ability to compute mass data simultaneously presents a giant leap in understanding immune abnormalities linked to western lifestyle conditions including chronic allergies, arthritis, obesity and Alzheimer's. The technology will be housed in the Ramaciotti Centre for Human Systems Biology, to be jointly set up by Centenary Institute and the University of Sydney.
The 2009 $1 million Biomedical Research Award was awarded to a joint research team led by Professor Phillip Robinson and Professor Roger Reddel from the Children's Medical Research Institute, and Professor Adam McCluskey from The University of Newcastle, to create the world's first 'Centre for Kinomics'.
The 'Centre for Kinomics' will provide the resources for 23 participating New South Wales research teams to analyse current therapeutic drugs and develop new, more effective ones. The equipment funded by the grant will be located within two new custom-built research laboratories, one based at the Children's Medical Research Institute and the other at the University of Newcastle.
Chief Investigators Prof Chris Goodnow and Dr Anselm Enders from The John Curtin School of Medical Research, at the Australian National University, are the recipients of the 2007 award of $1 million.
Their team's work has focused on cellular immortalisation and pioneered successful genomic technology to reveal genes, cells and biological mechanisms governing immunisation responses. The award helped to fund a new laboratory at the Immunology and Genetics Division in the school.
A consortium of University of Sydney researchers linking basic and clinical research in mental health, neurology and neuroscience was awarded a $1 million grant in 2003.
The grant was used to purchase an animal positron emission tomography (micro-PET) scanner, allowing the establishment of the 'Clive and Vera Ramaciotti Centre for Brain Imaging'. The Centre encourages collaboration between more than 65 laboratories in the University and its affiliated hospitals.
The Clive and Vera Ramaciotti Centre for Gene Function Analysis was awarded the "Clive and Vera Ramaciotti Millennium Grant" in 2000 to establish the Centre and fund future research.
This Centre is a collaboration of five universities and five medical research centres in the Sydney-Newcastle region, providing a major focus on research, development and application of Functional Genomics in Australia. It is a central facility that enables researchers to determine how organisms respond to change, provides state of the art equipment to integrate DNA technology with protein analysis and the training in these technologies to develop research expertise.
Professor Andrew Roberts and Professor John Seymour have jointly been awarded the 2020 Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research and the associated $50,000 grant. Both work at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and the University of Melbourne, and Professor Roberts conducts research at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. The duo have been recognised for their roles in researching and conducting clinical trials for a breakthrough anti-cancer drug Venetoclax, that is benefiting patients across the world who have chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL).
Professor Timothy Hughes, Precision Medicine Theme Leader at South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) is the 2019 winner of the Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research.
Professor Hughes received the medal for his work in the development and refinement of kinase inhibitor therapy for chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML), transforming CML from a universally fatal disease into one associated with nearly normal survival.
Ramaciotti Medal recipient Professor Dietmar W Hutmacher, Professor and Chair in Regenerative Medicine of the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), is the 2018 winner of the Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research, and a $50,000 grant.
Professor Dietmar W Hutmacher is known for pioneering the field of 3D printing in medicine as well as his track record in developing clinically relevant disease models.
The 2017 prestigious Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research went to Professor Susan Clark, Head of Division, Genomics and Epigenetics, Garvan Institute of Medical Research, is the 2017 winner of the Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research, and a $50,000 grant.
Professor Susan Clark is a worldwide pioneer in the field of cancer epigenetics and epigenomics. Over the past 25 years, Professor Clark’s ground-breaking discoveries in cancer DNA biology have led to new tests for early cancer detection.
The 2016 prestigious Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research went to Professor Jane Visvader and Professor Geoff Lindeman for their pioneering work in discovering new approaches to breast cancer treatment and prevention.
The establishment of their laboratory and a new research division at WEHI have raised a number of initiatives which are providing an important legacy for cancer research activities in Australia.
Their discoveries have altered the way breast cancer is viewed by researchers and have encouraged a new field of research in breast cancer, specifically in breast stem cell biology. Importantly, their group’s work has laid a framework for ongoing efforts to translate basic discoveries to the clinic. These discoveries will impact on improved breast cancer outcomes for the next generation of women.
Professor Carola Vinuesa, Head, Department of Immunology and Infectious Disease, Australian National University, is the 2015 winner of the Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research, and a $50,000 grant.
Professor Vinuesa’s discovery of the ROQUIN family of proteins has opened up new avenues to diagnose and treat autoimmune diseases.
Professor Vinuesa’s research achievements have been recognized in Australia and internationally by prestigious fellowships and grants, numerous invitations to speak at key scientific meetings, and by awards including election as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 2015 and CSL Young Florey Medal in 2014.
Professor David Craik, Laboratory Head, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, The University of Queensland, is the 2014 winner of the Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence in Biomedical and $50,000 grant.
His discoveries in the field of circular proteins have broad applicability in the design of new drugs, diagnostic agents, neuroscience tools and ultra-stable proteins. The new classes of protein-based drug leads and agricultural pest control agents designed by Professor Craik have enormous potential to improve human health and benefit society. He has been active internationally in pioneering this new field of science, delivering more than 80 plenary lectures over the last decade and authoring over 500 refereed publications.
The prestigious Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research went to Prof Douglas Hilton, director of Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and head of the Department of Medical Biology at the University of Melbourne. Prof Hilton received the medal and $50,000 for his discoveries in blood cell production.
The prestigious Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research went to Professor Kathryn North AM, Douglas Burrows Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of Sydney and Head of the Institute for Neuroscience and Muscle Research at the Children's Hospital, Westmead. The Ramaciotti Medal recognises Professor North's outstanding contribution to biomedical research in three key areas: neuromuscular disorders, neurofibromatosis, and the study of genes that influence athletic performance.
Professor North received worldwide recognition for leading the team that discovered a skeletal muscle gene (ACTN3) linked to athletic muscle performance and function, dubbed 'the gene for speed'. Professor North's research showed that although one in five Australians are deficient in a-actinin-3, no Olympic sprint athletes have ever been found deficient in the gene.
In 2011 the Ramaciotti Medal was awarded to Professor Michael Parker of St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research, whose work has led to a breakthrough in a potential treatment for certain leukaemias and significant developments in the quest to treat Alzheimer's.
In a career that spans more than 25 years, Prof. Parker's research has made major inroads into the use of protein crystallography, a process akin to an X-ray microscope that allows researchers a three dimensional look at the atomic structure of proteins, the building blocks of the body. The shapes discovered through this process have provided the basis for designing drugs to treat a range of serious diseases, including Alzheimer's, leukaemia and other cancers, and infections.
View a short film about Professor Michael Parker - winner of the 2011 Ramaciotti Medal
Professor Christopher Goodnow from the Australian National University was awarded the prestigious Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research. Professor Goodnow was awarded the Medal for his research into how the immune system is controlled so that it does not attack our own organs and tissues when it repels invading bacteria and viruses. His work will enable scientists to develop more effective drugs for treatment of a wide range of conditions, from infectious diseases to diabetes and cancer.
Professor Geoff McFadden was awarded the 2009 Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research for his work in developing new ways to combat one of the world's major health problems, malaria.
In his research, Prof. McFadden co-discovered a plant-like structure known as a 'chloroplast' in the parasite that causes malaria. His team's subsequent research has focused on why the parasite has a relict structure in common with plants, providing hope for a new and different way of treating the disease.
His research on the distinguishing characteristics of cancer cells and the discovery of an enzyme has opened up the way for the development of drugs that could be an effective treatment for cancers.
Together with molecular genetic collaborators in Adelaide and Germany, the Australian team discovered the first gene for human epilepsy and were involved in finding the majority of other currently known epilepsy genes. The discoveries are now being used in diagnosis of particular inherited epilepsies.
As Head of the Division of Immunology and Genetics, Cancer and Vascular Biology Group, John Curtin School of Medical Research at the Australian National University, Professor Parish won the 2005 medal for his contribution to immunology and cancer biology.
With a history of study focused on the immune system Professor Parish was the first person to demonstrate that cell-mediated immunity and antibody formation are mutually antagonistic responses in the 1970s.
This phenomenon was recognised as playing a critical role in the development of autoimmune disease and in resistance or susceptibility to different infections. This led to his work on the role of complex carbohydrates in inhibiting inflammation, tumour metastasis and angiogenesis.
Professor Thomas Martin, Emeritus Professor of Medicine at the University of Melbourne, and John Holt Fellow (associated with St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research), was awarded the 2004 medal for his work in the field of endocrine research.
His research was vital to discovering how hormones control and maintain bone cells to prevent osteoporosis. Professor Martin also discovered a new hormone produced by cancers and one of the main causes of the spread of cancers to the bone - particularly breast and prostate cancers.
Professor Chesterman, Director of Haematology at the Prince of Wales Hospital and conjoint Professor of Pathology and Medicine at UNSW was awarded the 2003 medal for his work in the development and improvement of diagnostic and therapeutic techniques.
Professor Chesterman's research focused on improving the prognosis of intravascular thrombosis which often proved fatal in the past. The work led to new diagnostic and treatment approaches in these conditions.
Professor Bob Baxter, Director of the Kolling institute of Medical Research at the Royal North Shore Hospital and Head of the Department of Molecular Medicine at the University of Sydney, was awarded the 2002 Medal for his work in human physiology and pathology.
His work focused on understanding normal tissue and body growth and how it is impaired in diabetes, renal failure and critical illness. The work led to the understanding of and development of therapies for breast and other cancers.
Professor Grant Sutherland of the Women's and Children's Hospital, South Australia was awarded the 2001 Medal for his work on improving diagnosis of 'X' syndrome, where children are born with an intellectual handicap.
His laboratory identified special DNA sequences on the fragile 'X' chromosome, which led to improved diagnosis, reliable identification of carriers and more reliable prenatal diagnosis.
Professor Rob Sutherland, of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research was awarded the 2000 Medal for his laboratory's contribution to breast and prostate cancer research.
His research centred on the way in which female sex hormones regulate the proliferation of breast cancer cells, which led to developments in the treatment of breast cancer.
Professor Elspeth McLachlan of Sydney's Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute was awarded the 1998 Medal for her research on neural pathways within the autonomic nervous system.
Her work has led to improved understanding and treatment of hypertension, stress, disorders of blood flow and bodily functions such as digestion, body temperature control, continence and ageing problems.
Professor Murray Esler's outstanding contribution to biomedical science has been to develop and exploit a method for measuring the strength of drive by sympathetic nerves that release catecholamines, in the body as a whole and in individual organs such as the heart, kidney and even brain.
He has utilised this technique in normal individuals under a variety of circumstances such as exercise, ageing and obesity and in patients suffering from a variety of disorders such as heart failure, hypertension, and mental illness.
Professor John Coghlan was the inaugural recipient of the Ramaciotti Medal. His field of research is molecular biology within which he developed a technique known as 'in situ hybridization histochemistry'. This technique made it possible to identify which cells within complex organs of the body, such as the brain, kidney, liver and intestine contain the machinery to manufacture specific hormones.
Professor Coghlan's technique has also been employed by other biomedical scientists around the world, in such diverse disciplines as endocrinology, hypertension, atherosclerosis, foetal development and cancer.