Chief Investigators receive NHMRC awards

Seeing clearly ... a standard image of the interior of a T-Cell (upper left) versus the super resolution image (bottom right).

Congratulations to Chief Investigators Katharina Gaus and Jamie Rossjohn who were honoured in the NHMRC research excellence awards announced earlier this month in Canberra in the presence of Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton, CEO of the NHMRC Warwick Anderson, Nobel Laureate Barry Marshall, and other distinguished guests.

Katharina, an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow at the University of New South Wales, was awarded an Elizabeth Blackburn Fellowship for biomedical research, one of three Blackburn fellowships presented annually to highlight the achievements of women scientists. The award was made for her work that “aims to better understand the molecular mechanisms of the decision-making processes of immune cells”.

Her recognition was marked by a feature article in the Sydney Morning Herald that talked of a new super-resolution microscope Katharina has designed. Using tens of thousands of images of a single T cell in which components are highlighted with fluorescent markers, the microscope can resolve the patterns of proteins involved in decision-making. Eventually, Katharina hopes, such work will lead to therapies that train T-cells to target cancer cells.

Among more than 3000 grant applications, Jamie Rossjohn was awarded the NHMRC’s highest-ranked project grant. He and his team will use the grant to allow them to further their investigation into mucosal-associated invariant T cells (MAIT cells), the sentry immune cells found in abundance in the gastrointestinal system. Their research may pave the way to improved treatments for conditions such as tuberculosis and inflammatory bowel disease.

As noted in last month’s bulletin, Jamie recently became an Australian Academy of Science Fellow. You can see his short presentation on his work at the Academy’s Shine Dome in Canberra to mark his admission.

Date Published: 
Wednesday, 25 June 2014