MIPS researcher receives 7-year, $10 million grant

The principal investigator of the Monash Milk Team at Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) has been awarded DKK 50 million (roughly AUD $10 million) Laureate Research Grant by the Denmark-based Novo Nordisk Foundation.

In a move that will strengthen research ties between the two institutions, Professor Ben Boyd will be relocating to The University of Copenhagen for 10 months every year. He will retain a fractional appointment at MIPS, where he will spend the remaining two months each year.

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The seven-year Laureate Research Grants are awarded to outstanding international researchers who want to establish a research group in Denmark. Only 16 have been awarded since the establishment of the scheme in 2012.

“Although we will of course miss having Ben in Melbourne, we are overjoyed that his research and leadership have received this richly deserved global recognition,” said Professor Arthur Christopoulos, Dean of the Monash Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

“We are also extremely excited to explore the possibilities for collaboration that this grant represents. The exchange of ideas and people is the life-blood of research, and we look forward to the outstanding opportunities that Ben will spearhead to broaden our Faculty’s collaborative ties with the Danish research community and pharmaceutical industry,” he said.

Professor Boyd and the Monash Milk Team were one of two MIPS research groups recently awarded an Australian Museum Eureka Prize, which is one of Australia’s highest research honours.

“I would not have been in contention for this grant without the resources, collaborations and supportive culture that working at MIPS for 16 years has afforded me,” said Professor Boyd.

“I look forward to drawing upon the strengths of both MIPS and the University of Copenhagen to create new methods of drug delivery that help those who need it most,” he said.

Professor Boyd’s research seeks to understand which properties of the surface of nanoparticles give them their functions in the human gut. Examples are particles in food or medicines.

One of his areas of focus is milk and what happens when we drink it. This research shows that fat particles in milk change from being oily when we drink them to becoming more like sponges when they arrive in our gut. The changes in the surface chemistry of the particles can cause them to interact differently with enzymes and potentially also the immune system. This may strongly affect our health.

“The complementary infrastructure and opportunities presented in my field by both the Copenhagen and Melbourne research precincts will enable benefits to both scientific communities through this collaborative arrangement,” said Professor Boyd.