Outstanding achievement across the Monash BDI recognised

Group photo of the 2019 Awards for Outstanding Achievement recipients.
Group photo of the 2019 Awards for Outstanding Achievement recipients.

As the end of 2019 fast approaches, it is an excellent time to pause and reflect on some of the successes and achievements from throughout the year. Last Friday, the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) came together in the new Learning and Teaching Building to do just that at the annual Awards for Outstanding Achievement.

Professor John Carroll, Director of the Monash BDI, began the presentation highlighting some of the milestones, triumphs and progress made both by individual members of the institute, and by all.

From Queen’s Honours, Eureka Prizes and a Premier’s Award, to fellowships and grants from a diverse range of funding bodies – both national and international - the presentation highlighted the talent, dedication and drive of members of the Monash BDI.

The education team continues to achieve amazing results with both student outcomes and academic achievement, with Dean’s Awards for Excellence, Vice Chancellor’s Awards, and fellowships and grants a testament this. The opening of the new Biomedical Learning and Teaching Building at the beginning of the year has transformed the way our academics teach the next generation of scientists.

The institute’s ECR achievements, commercial successes, major collaborations, and engagement with the wider public were also highlighted. These included the launch of a new spin-out company – Inosi Therapeutics – the beginning of a new collaboration with Penn State University, and Professor Steve Turner becoming the country’s go-to influenza expert over the flu season.

“This has been a year of transition, a great year for some and a tough one for others,” Professor Carroll said.

“We’ve continued to grow and diversify our funding sources, we’ve made game-changing discoveries that will benefit people across the world, published hundreds of papers, and maintained and enhanced our reputation as a world-leading biomedical research institute,” he said.

Professor Dena Lyras, Deputy Director of the Monash BDI, joined Professor Carroll to present this year’s Monash BDI Awards for Outstanding Achievement. These awards recognise the achievements of members of the institute who have gone above and beyond.

Fourteen individuals or groups were recognised across eleven categories, spanning the five strategic priorities of the Monash BDI. Each award category was judged by a selection committee of three individuals.

Congratulations to the winners of the Monash BDI Awards for Outstanding Achievement

Industry Engagement and Commercialisation Award
Associate Professor Siew Chai, Professor Robert Widdop and Dr Tracey Gaspari: for facilitating translation of basic research into human therapeutics via the formation of a spinout company, Inosi Therapeutics, with joint investment from BioCurate and IP Group.

Judges commendation went to Dr Remy Robert and Professor Charles Mackay

Clinical Engagement and Research Translation Award
Associate Professor Renea Taylor, Professor Gail Risbridger, Dr Laura Porter, Dr Mitchell Lawrence and the Prostate Cancer Research Group: for changing international guidelines for treating aggressive prostate cancer.

Outstanding International Collaboration Award
Professor Anthony Purcell and Dr Pouya Faridi: for establishing the collaboration between the Monash BDI and the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy to conduct the first clinical trial for cancer vaccination comprising spliced peptide antigens.

Award for Fostering a Supportive Environment (two winners)
Dr Davina Dadley-Moore: for developing initiatives that support Monash BDI researchers through their careers, enabling them to focus on high impact research.

Professor Dena Lyras: for her contribution to gender equity policy in the Monash BDI and mentorship of early and middle career researchers.

Science Communication and Community Engagement Award
Dr Erica Tandori and the Sensory Science Team: for creating the unique and highly successful Sensory Scientific Exhibition that provides members of the blind and low vision community the opportunity to engage with biomedical research.

Innovation in Learning and Teaching AwardDr Meredith Hughes: for developing a semester-long enquiry-based research project which excites students using current research, bridging the gap between Monash BDI research and teaching innovation.

Judges commendation went to Dr Jessica Gibbons

Teaching Excellence Award
Dr Daniel Czech: for his outstanding contribution to the Monash BDI’s flagship degree program and commitment to enhancing student employability.

Judges commendation went to Dr Chantal Hoppe

Outstanding Contribution to Support of Research or Education Award
NOTDRS: for hosting the Biochemistry Postgraduate Student Symposium enabling students to showcase their work.

Judges commendation went to Renae Hayle

Monash BDI Thesis Excellence Award (two winners)
Dr Xiaodong Liu: his PhD studies were instrumental in defining how pluripotent stem cells in naïve and primed states are formed and importantly provide a road-map of the different routes of pluripotency. During his PhD, he was an author on 10 papers, including first author on Nature Methods, Immunology & Cell Biology and Methods in Molecular Biology.

Dr Bradley Spicer: for his superb track record of contributing to five papers, as first author on three including two Nature Communications publications and, one in Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology. A testament to his talent, his PhD reviewers made no changes to his thesis.

Director’s Highly Commended Publication Award
Research led by Professor Tony Tiganis and published in Cell titled ‘Obesity Drives STAT-1-Dependent NASH and STAT-3-Dependent HCC’, 175, 1289 (2018)

Director’s Highly Commended Publication Award
Dr Christopher Andoniou for his contribution to the paper in Science titled ‘Strain-specific antibody therapy prevents CMV reactivation after transplantation’, 363, 288 (2019)

Discovery Award for Best Publication
Dr Luca Fiorenza and Dr Justin Adams for their paper published in Nature titled ‘Elemental signatures of Australopithecus africanus teeth reveal seasonal dietary stress’, 572, 112 (2019)

For those of you who weren’t able to attend the presentation, you can download the slides (Monash login required).

About the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute

Committed to making the discoveries that will relieve the future burden of disease, the newly established Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University brings together more than 120 internationally-renowned research teams. Our researchers are supported by world-class technology and infrastructure, and partner with industry, clinicians and researchers internationally to enhance lives through discovery.