University of Melbourne scientists recognised with awards

A scientist working to develop a one-shot-for-life flu vaccine and a renowned environmental scientist have been awarded prestigious Australian Academy of Science medals.

University of Melbourne science degrees
Associate Professor Katherine Kedzierska and Dr Jane Elith will receive the prestigious Academy of Science medals for 2016 (Photo credit: University of Melbourne)

University of Melbourne immunologist Associate Professor Katherine Kedzierska, from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, won the 2016 Jacques Miller Medal for experimental biomedicine.

Associate Professor Kedzierska researches immune responses to virus outbreaks, including influenza, with a particular focus on how best to protect vulnerable and high-risk groups.

Her cutting-edge work could lead to the development of a one-shot flu jab for life.

Professor Sharon Lewin, Director of the Doherty Institute, said Associate Professor Kedzierska’s outstanding translational research was integral to the work of the organisation.

“Katherine is such a deserving recipient of the Jacques Miller Medal and I congratulate her on this outstanding achievement. Earlier this year she made headlines for her research identifying ‘killer’ CD8+ T cells as the best way to protect against a new strain of avian influenza virus emerging from China, a major breakthrough in the search for universal flu vaccine.

“I am also very excited to see these two medals being awarded to two outstanding female scientists.” Professor Fabienne Mackay, Head of the School of Biomedical Sciences, said this is only the second time the Jacques Miller Medal for Experimental Biomedicine has been awarded.

“We are very proud of Katherine for such an incredible achievement. The honour is a testament to the capability within the university’s biomedical department and the Doherty Institute for producing ground-breaking research with the potential to make a real global impact.”

Dr Jane Elith, who recently won the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science, was awarded the Fenner Medal. Dr Elith from the Melbourne Faculty of Science, has become one of the world’s most influential researchers in applied ecology.

She uses new tools to understand species distribution in the wild, helping to better inform environmental managers and governments on invasive species, land-use and improving biodiversity.

Dean of Science at the University of Melbourne Professor Karen Day said Dr Elith was blazing a trail for women in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

“She is an outstanding conservation biologist and a wonderful role model for women in STEM,” Prof Day said.

“Her work exemplifies the power of combining mathematics and biology to provide innovative solutions to environmental problems.” The Academy President, Professor Andrew Holmes called the women ‘inspirational.’

“These scientists are simply inspirational. They are working at the leading edges of their fields and of human knowledge, and they are developing innovations that will change and improve our society, our economy and our health,” Professor Holmes said.

The awards will be formally presented at the Academy’s annual three-day celebration of Australian science, Science at the Shine Dome, in Canberra in May 2016.


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