Disease-causing bacterium ... being targeted by Professor Walker
Disease-causing bacterium ... being targeted by Professor Walker
11 June 2014

The University of Queensland’s Professor Mark Walker is among 20 researchers recognised at the National Health and Medical Council Research Excellence Awards.

Professor Walker, the Director of the Australian Infectious Disease Research Centre, and an international collaborative team of researchers, received the award for the highest-ranked NHMRC development grant.

Professor Walker’s research focuses on the mechanism by which a streptococcus bacterium causes invasive disease.

“These diseases range from mild skin infections such as pharyngitis, scarlet fever, impetigo, and cellulitis, to severe diseases such as septicemia, streptococcal toxic shock syndrome, and necrotizing fasciitis,” he said.

The Chief Investigator team includes UQ researchers Professor Istvan Toth and Dr Peter Moyle, Dr Michael Batzloff from Griffith University and international experts Professors Guido Silvestri from Emory University and Victor Nizet from UCSD. Associate investigators include Professors Michael Good from Griffith University and James MCarthy from QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.

The project is the result of a collaboration which began through the recently established Queensland Emory Development (QED) Alliance which builds on existing relationships between the University of Queensland, Emory University (US), and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.

The team aims to provide proof-of-concept data to minimise risk for industry partners on the road to human trials and the development of a safe vaccine.

UQ’s Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Anton Middelberg, said Professor Walker’s work was highly valued and regarded in the research community.

“This work has wide-ranging implications and the potential to be of great benefit to humankind,” Professor Middelberg said.

The Federal Minister for Health, Peter Dutton, was present at the NHMRC Excellence Awards.

NHMRC CEO Professor Warwick Anderson praised the quality of the research the awardees were undertaking.

“Among this year’s 20 recipients are researchers whose work aims to deliver breakthroughs in areas such as Alzheimer’s Disease, cancer and immune disease,” Professor Anderson said.

“We are also delighted to recognise some very promising up-and-coming researchers who are on the path to join the ranks of our country’s very best minds in science.”

Profiles of the awardees are here: www.nhmrc.gov.au/research-highlights

Contact: Fiona Cameron, UQ Communications, ph +61 7 3346 7086