Congrats to Wael and Adam: Winners of the Early Career Researcher Publication Prizes for 2021

The Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences (MNHS) is committed to developing Faculty-based Early Career Researcher (ECR)* initiatives, to assist our ECRs in the development of their research careers. In addition to the emphasis placed on a strong track record in research publications and competitive funding, there is also the requirement for ECRs to secure competitive Prizes & Awards. In support  of  this,  the  Faculty Research Office offers the MNHS ECR Publication Prize.

*In FMNHS, an Early Career Researcher (ECR) is defined as academic staff (Levels A-C) within 10 years of their PhD conferral (taking career disruptions into account).

ECRs are invited to nominate one research publication from the previous year for the MNHS ECR Publication Prize. Up to six ECR Publication Prizes are awarded per year, a maximum of one prize per discipline:

  1. The Robert Porter Prize for Laboratory Based Sciences
  2. The John McNeil Prize for Public Health Research
  3. The Henry Krum Prize for Clinical Sciences
  4. The Jenny Keating Prize for Nursing and Allied Health
  5. The Leon Piterman Prize for Social and Educational Research
  6. The Jenny Redman Prize for Psychological Sciences

In addition, up two Faculty prizes are also awarded for the best publications from ECRs who hold an externally-funded Fellowship.

Congratulations to our 2021 Early Career Researcher Publication Prize Winners

Robert Porter Early Career Researcher Publication Prize for Laboratory Based Sciences
Dr Wael Awad, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, School of Biomedical Sciences, Biomedicine Discovery Institute.
The molecular basis underpinning the potency and specificity of MAIT cell antigens Nature Immunology

Wael says
It is a great honour to receive the 2021 Robert Porter ECR Publication Prize for Laboratory Sciences. I am incredibly grateful to the fantastic team of collaborators who worked together so effectively across multiple research platforms and institutes in this exciting study. In particular, I’d like to express my sincerest appreciation to my mentor Professor Jamie Rossjohn for his enduring efforts and support throughout this project’s journey. In this study, we used a range of innovative structural biology and immunology approaches to unearth the molecular principles underpinning how microbial metabolites could be presented by the antigen-presenting molecule MR1 to specialized T cells, called MAIT cells, triggering an effective immune response against the invading microbes. This research provided an important framework for rationally designing improved MAIT inhibitors and activating ligands that could pave the way for the development of novel T-cell therapies. To help promote the science explored in this paper, I intend to use this prize towards travel costs for an international meeting next year.

Early Career Researcher Fellows Publication Prize for Laboratory Based Research
Dr Adam Shahine, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, School of Biomedical Sciences, Biomedicine Discovery Institute.
A single-domain bispecific antibody targeting CD1d and the NKT T-cell receptor induces a potent antitumor response Nature Cancer

Adam says
It is an absolute honour to be the recipient of the 2021 ECR Publication Prize – Fellows Publication Prize for Laboratory Sciences. I would like to acknowledge all co-authors and collaborators who took part in this exciting study. In particular, my co-first author Roeland Lameris from Amsterdam UMC, who partook in a lab stay within our laboratory for this project, as well as my key supervisor and mentor Professor Jamie Rossjohn. This study was a fantastic collaborative effort between academic and industrial institutes including Lava Therapeutics, Amsterdam UMC, Monash University, and the University of Melbourne, which married together a multidisciplinary body of work to describe a novel immuno-oncology approach for the potential treatment of rare cancers. Here, we have described the bispecific properties of a VHH antibody, supported by cellular, biophysical, structural, and mouse model data, that target and boost the interaction between two key immune cell receptors within the CD1d-Natural Killer T cell axis, resulting in a more effective immune response towards multiple myeloma and acute myeloid leukemia. These new findings will serve as a model for the potential generation of new and effective treatments towards a broad range of cancers. I aim to use these funds to attend the 16th Congress of the Federation of Asian and Oceanic Biochemists and Molecular Biologists to be held in Christchurch, NZ, in November 2021.


Adapted from The Pulse News from the MNHS Research office

Congrats to Jamie, Gabby, Erica & David -Finalists of Eureka Prize for STEM Inclusion

Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) researchers have been announced as finalists in three separate 2019 Eureka Prize award categories! Congratulations to Professor Mariapia Degli-Esposti and her team, Professor Jamie Rossjohn and his team, and Professor Paul Wood AO on this incredible achievement.

ARC Laureate Fellow, Professor Jamie Rossjohn, and his team are finalists for the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Eureka Prize for STEM Inclusion. The team, including Dr Gabby Watson and Dr Erica Tandori from the Monash BDI and Dr David Jacques from the University of New South Wales (UNSW), developed an innovative program that aims to engage members of the blind and low vision community with science.

Often when science is conveyed to the public, the audience is assumed to be able-bodied. Members of the community with disabilities are frequently overlooked when the method to communicate the scientific discovery is not specifically tailored to their needs. A prime example is the blind and low vision community of more than half a million Australians.

Conceiving the idea for the Sensory Scientific Exhibition and Discovery Day, Professor Rossjohn joined forces with project leader Dr Watson, and legally-blind artist-in-residence Dr Tandori, who transformed scientific concepts into tactile models and artistic displays that were specifically tailored to this community.

“As the artist working with this amazing team, I can open up a world of scientific discovery to the low vision and blind communities – finally, we can all be part of the wonder of science, and share  this  in a way that is accessible to everybody,” Dr Tandori said.

Following the overwhelmingly positive feedback from the first exhibition held at Monash in May 2018, the team engaged with Dr Jacques at UNSW, who spearheaded the second Sensory Scientific Exhibition held in Sydney in December the same year.

The winners will be announced on Wednesday 28 August at Sydney Town Hall. For more information on the Eureka Prize, visit the Australian Museum website.

Original article

Photo: Professor Jamie Rossjohn, Dr Erica Tandori and Dr Gabby Watson. Absent: Dr David Jacques.

2016 Victoria Prize for Science & Innovation

The Victoria Prize for Science and Innovation recognises the outstanding work of established Victorian scientists and the impact of their research.
Prof Jamie Rossjohn, of Monash University, and Prof James McCluskey, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at University of Melbourne, last night received the Victoria Prize for Science and Innovation for 15 years of pioneering work in understanding of how T lymphocytes from the immune system recognise harmful microbes.
Their research aims to build better vaccines, diagnosis and treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, peptic ulcers and tuberculosis.

Original article

Eureka Gold for Jamie, Jim and Lars

Last night at a gala event in Sydney, Australia Museum Eureka prizes were awarded for outstanding achievements in research and innovation, teaching, leadership, communication and journalism.

Of the 18 awards on offer, Professor Jamie Rossjohn, from the School of Biomedical Sciences’ Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, together with Professor James McCluskey and Dr Lars Kjer-Nielsen from the University of Melbourne won the University of New South Wales Eureka Prize for Scientific Research.

The team uncovered what activates a widespread, but, until recently, mysterious gut-dwelling immune cell. They noticed that a protein from these cells only formed properly in the presence of by-products of vitamin B, which are formed by invasive bacteria and yeast. It became clear that these vitamin B metabolites were providing early warning to our immune system.

This discovery will improve our understanding of the interplay between gut bacteria and the immune system, infections from thrush to TB, and open up opportunities for vaccine development and other therapeutics.

Original article

For more information:

Image: Australian Museum Eureka Prizes and photographer Daniel O’Doherty.

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