Public Release: 

Australian scientists awarded $1m research fellowships

Research Australia

Scientists undertaking groundbreaking work into glaucoma and chemotherapy have each been awarded $1m research grants, Pfizer Australia announced.

The Pfizer Australia Research Fellowships have been awarded to Dr Ricky Johnstone of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Victoria and Associate Professor David Mackey of Royal Hobart Hospital Eye Clinic in Tasmania.

Dr Johnstone is studying the molecular mechanisms of chemotherapeutic drug action and resistance, while Associate Professor Mackey is researching the genetic inheritance of glaucoma.

Pfizer Australia Research Fellowships are worth $A1m over five years and are awarded in critical fields like brain stem cell activity, HIV and neuropsychiatric disorders. The latest grants bring the total to seven.

Previous recipients have been:

  • Associate Professor Lea Williams of the Brain Dynamics Centre at Sydney's Westmead Hospital for internationally-recognised research into the cause and treatment of brain disconnections in major neuropsychiatric disorders. These include schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), using a range of brain imaging techniques;

  • Dr Johnson Mak of Monash University and Melbourne's Macfarlane Burnet Institute for research into the replication of HIV pathogens and the search for new targets for AIDS therapy. This may lead to novel treatments and prevention strategies, including new antiviral treatments and vaccines;

  • Dr Rodney Rietze of the Queensland Brain Institute at the University of Queensland for his innovative study of brain stem cell markers. Dr Rietze is a developmental neurobiologist, researching the regulation of brain stem cell activity. His work could lead the way in treating debilitating neurodegenerative diseases and brain injuries, such as motor neuron disease and stroke, as well as normal brain ageing;

  • Dr Sally Dunwoodie (Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, Darlinghurst) for work in defining the functions of two specific genes during embryonic development, identifying changes that can lead to human disorders such as skeletal abnormalities and;

  • Dr Steven Stacker (Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Melbourne) for researching blood vessel growth factors to determine new targets for treatment of metastatic cancer.

Pfizer Australia Regional Director John Young said the Fellowships are a tangible demonstration that Australia's researchers are the equal to any in the world.

"Through the significant financial support of programs like the Pfizer Australia Research Fellowships, we aim to encourage leaders in biomedical research to establish a career in this country," Mr Young said.

"Support of this level is vital for the future of both biomedical science and Australian society."

"It not only shows we're a world centre of biomedical research, but is contributing significantly to the future health of all of us."


Pfizer Australia is the nation's leading research-based health care company. It discovers, develops, manufactures and markets innovative medical treatments for both humans and animals. Pfizer Australia is investing in more than $A42m in local research and development in 2005. For more information visit

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