Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researchers have received five of the 11 awards for excellence in biochemistry and microbiology announced by the Australian Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) this month.
The ASBMB's highest award, the Lemberg Medal, will be presented to institute director Professor Doug Hilton at the society's ComBio meeting in September. The Lemberg Medal is awarded annually to an Australian scientist who is deemed to have made ongoing contributions to biochemistry or molecular biology.
The institute's deputy director, Professor David Vaux, said Professor Hilton was a worthy recipient of the Lemberg Medal. "The award recognises Doug's seminal contributions to research into blood cell production," Professor Vaux said. "His discoveries have opened important new fields of research, and he has mentored many scientists who are now outstanding medical researchers in their own right. I am thrilled that the ASBMB has chosen him as this year's Lemberg medalist."
The other awards to institute researchers that were announced were: the Bioplatforms Australia Award to Dr Chris Tonkin from the Infection and Immunity division; an ASBMB Fellowship and the Fred Collins Award to Mr David Riglar, a student in the Infection and Immunity division; the Boomerang Award to Dr Ian Majewski, who is currently seconded from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute to the Netherlands Cancer Institute through the National Health and Medical Research Council's CJ Martin Fellowship scheme; and the Life Technologies Edman Award to Dr Erinna Lee of the institute's Structural Biology division. This award is Dr Lee's second prize from the ASBMB: as a student in 2007 she received an ASBMB fellowship.
Professor Hilton said he was honoured to be awarded the Lemberg Medal, and also extremely proud of the recognition that the ASBMB gave to other institute researchers. "Biochemistry and molecular biology are important components of so many fields of research - medical research, agriculture, plant science and microbiology, to name just a few," he said. "While the outcomes of these research areas are diverse, at the molecular level, all life forms share many common processes. The ASBMB is an important society for Australian scientists, as it promotes the exchange of ideas between a number of research fields, facilitating the rapid advancement of research.
"To see the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute so well represented in this year's ASBMB awards, particularly at the student and postdoctoral fellow level, is very pleasing. These junior scientists have many years of fruitful research ahead of them, and the awards reflect the importance of the discoveries they have already made."
Past institute recipients of the Lemberg Medal have included deputy director Professor David Vaux (2008), structural biologist Dr Colin Ward (2007), malaria researcher Professor Alan Cowman (2006), former institute director Professor Suzanne Cory (1995), structural biologist Professor Peter Colman (1988), and Professor Jerry Adams (1986), joint head of the institute's Molecular Genetics of Cancer division.
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