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Infectious diseases researcher wins $1.225 million fellowship

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

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IMAGE: Dr Marc Pellegrini has been awarded a Senior Medical Research Fellowship by the Sylvia and Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation. view more

Credit: Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

Dr Marc Pellegrini is one of three researchers to this year be awarded a 2014 Sylvia and Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation Senior Medical Research Fellowship.

The fellowships support mid-career medical researchers whose work is likely to have an enormous impact on medical research in the future. Each fellow receives $1.225 million ($245,000 per year for five years).

Dr Pelligrini, a laboratory head in the institute's Infection and Immunity division, said the five-year fellowship would allow him to focus on progressing his research into chronic infections such as HIV, hepatitis B and tuberculosis.

"We have made some significant discoveries about how the microbes that cause these diseases evade the immune system and are now exploring how these discoveries could be applied to eradicate hepatitis B, HIV and tuberculosis," he said. "Research is a long-term proposition so having the security of the Viertel Fellowship to allow us to move our work through to clinical trials is incredibly important."

The Chair of the Viertel Foundation's Medical Advisory Board, Professor Peter Leedman, said the researchers were selected from a strong field of candidates from across Australia.

"The research projects being pursued by these early career scientists cross broad themes from infectious disease and clinical trials in hepatitis B to the earliest stages of development and capturing that in real time, as well as deciphering the detail of the genome, and in particular, the epigenome and the secrets it has for understanding and reshaping brain function," he said.

"In recognition of the extraordinary calibre of the shortlisted candidates this year, the trustees of the foundation agreed to award one more fellowship than normal this year. I thank the trustees for supporting Australian science in this way. This major award will make a significant contribution to their careers and research impact."

The two other recipients of the fellowships were Professor Ryan Lister from the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and the University of Western Australia, and Dr Nicolas Plachta from EMBL Australia and the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute.

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