Awards champion Australian-based research, highlight impact of philanthropy on health and wellbeing of millions worldwide
More than $1.7 million has been awarded to seven biomedical researches, as Perpetual announced the recipients of the 2017 Clive and Vera Ramaciotti Awards for Biomedical Research.
The philanthropic ambition of Vera Ramaciotti, who established the Foundations in 1970, has seen more than $59 million awarded to Australian biomedical researchers. Past winners have been responsible for the development of the world's first cervical cancer vaccines and the Cochlear implant - highlighting the unmeasurable positive impact philanthropy can have on the lives of millions of people worldwide.
The biennial Ramaciotti Biomedical Research Award, worth $1 million, has been granted to Professor Katharina Gaus of The University of New South Wales' School of Medical Sciences.
The award will establish the Ramaciotti Systems Microscopy Facility at UNSW, the first facility dedicated to Systems Microscopy in Australia. Systems Microscopy is establishing a new gold-standard in biomedical research. It combines state-of-the-art imaging of individual molecules and single cells with complex biological systems, delivering transformative insights into human health and disease to inform improved diagnostics and therapies in cancer, immunology, neuroscience, metabolic disorders and regenerative medicine.
Accepting the award, Professor Gaus said: "It's an incredible honour to receive the Ramaciotti Biomedical Research Award. Australia is a world leader in biomedical research, and my peers across Australia - in many different specialties - are dedicated to improving the lives of millions of people worldwide.
"I am truly humbled to receive this award, which will help to establish the first Australian facility dedicated to Systems Microscopy. Systems Microscopy is shaping the future of biomedical research, and it's so exciting this new facility will strengthen Australia's leadership in the area.
"This award is testament to 12 years of continuous work, an achievement not possible without the support of my UNSW research partners, Professor Peter Gunning, Dr John Lock, and Dr Renee Whan," Professor Gaus said.
Professor Susan Clark of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research has been selected as the recipient of the Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research, an annual award of $50,000, to honour an outstanding discovery in clinical or experimental biomedical research. Professor Clark's ground-breaking discoveries in cancer DNA biology have led to new tests for early cancer detection.
Up to $150,000 will also be allocated to each of the five recipients of the Ramaciotti Health Investment Grants. The grants are awarded to autonomous early career scientists to support health or medical research with a potential path to clinical application within five years.
The recipients of the 2017 Ramaciotti Health Investment Grants are:
Commenting on the significance of the awards, Perpetual's National Manager of Philanthropy and Non Profit Services, Caitriona Fay, said: "As trustee of the Ramaciotti Foundations, we are proud of our continuous support of the Australian biomedical community.
"The Ramaciotti Foundations are one of the largest private contributors to biomedical research in Australia and have provided essential support to some of our most remarkable scientists since 1970.
"We have witnessed first-hand the life changing impact that philanthropy can have on society. Thanks to Vera Ramaciotti's vision and the legacy she has created, she has helped shape the futures of not only the recipients, but people worldwide who will benefit from their work," Ms Fay said.
Professor Derek Hart of The University of Sydney led the Ramaciotti Scientific Advisory Committee which directed Perpetual in selecting the grant recipients.
"We had an extraordinarily difficult time selecting from the outstanding array of applications for each accolade - Australian biomedical research is truly a leading contributor to worldwide clinical practice advancements," Professor Hart said.
On the work of Professor Gaus, Professor Hart added: "The work to significantly progress Systems Microscopy capabilities in Australia will make a meaningful and lasting contribution to the most important biomedical issues of our time. We expect the facility created by Professor Gaus to stimulate a collaborative research community and substantially support translational research activity."
Commenting on the grant recipients, Professor Hart said: "The Health Investment Grants cannot be underestimated in the assistance they provide to our best young researchers as they move their work into practical clinical application. The potential contribution of some of these projects is enormous, and we look forward to seeing the impact of the grants on these significant research undertakings."
This year the Foundations are awarding a total of $1,710,000 to biomedical research through the distribution of the biennial Ramaciotti Biomedical Research Award, the Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research and the Ramaciotti Health Investment Grants.
These grants bring the total funds distributed by the Ramaciotti Foundations to over $59 million since 1970.
The Ramaciotti Awards have over time played a role in some incredible pieces of work, including the discovery of lithium, in vitro fertilisation, the invention of aspro as a form of Aspirin in a tablet and the invention of the Cochlear implant.