2024 Australian Academy of Science Awards

2024 Australian Academy of Science Awards

2024 Australian Academy of Science Awards

02 April 2024

2024 Ruth Stephens Gani Medal

Dr Stephin Vervoort, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

Accurate control of gene expression is essential for health and deregulation of these processes can result in disease. A key regulator of gene expression is RNA Polymerase II (RNAPII), an enzyme that reads our DNA’s genetic information. Mutations that affect RNAPII’s function can give rise to cancers, and RNAPII dysregulation is recognised as a hallmark of cancers. As such, the RNAPII pathway is a prime candidate for the development of novel anti-cancer treatments. Despite the importance of tightly regulated gene expression in biology, the mechanistic control of this process remains incompletely understood. Dr Stephin Vervoort’s innovative approach to understand RNAPII regulation uses genome-wide analyses paired with computational methods. His work has resulted in ground-breaking discoveries of fundamental regulatory mechanisms of RNAPII-driven gene expression, uncovering how these are dysregulated in cancer, and which component can be targeted therapeutically in cancer. Ultimately, he aims to develop drugs that prevent these cellular processes from malfunctioning.

2024 John Booker Medal

Associate Professor Lining Arnold Ju, University of Sydney

Associate Professor Lining (Arnold) Ju’s revolutionary research in biomechanics and mechanobiology has led to crucial discoveries, including how cells use single receptors to ‘sense’, ‘read’ and ‘respond’ to mechanical cues by converting them into biological messages. This process helps us understand the mechanical way cells interact with their environment and communicate with each other. As the first engineer and first University of Sydney recipient of the prestigious Snow Fellowship, he has demonstrated his unwavering commitment to advancing biomechanical engineering. His vision involves creating a tiny device that predicts blood clotting tendency and warns people at risk of heart attacks or strokes, potentially saving numerous lives in Australia and around the world. Associate Professor Ju’s innovative contributions to biomechanical engineering have the potential to revolutionise diagnostics and surgical tools, ultimately improving countless lives by applying state-of-the-art engineering principles to critical healthcare challenges.

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2024 Australian Academy of Science Awards

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