CSL Limited

The $25 million CSL Centenary Fellowship program was established by CSL Limited in its Centenary year to support Australia’s best and brightest biomedical researchers—fostering excellence in medical research by supporting mid-career scientists to pursue world-class research at an Australian institution.
Read on for information about current Fellows.

More about the Fellowships at: www.csl.com.au/centenary/fellowships.htm

CSL Limited is a global specialty biotechnology company that researches, develops, manufactures and markets products to treat and prevent serious human medical conditions.

$2.5 million CSL Centenary Fellowships awarded:

Faster treatments for future pandemics (Brisbane)

Investigating the DNA factory in our bodies that makes everything (Melbourne)

Daniel Watterson and Stephin Vervoort

Two Australian scientists have each been awarded a CSL Centenary Fellowship of $1.25 million over five years to undertake research that will transform our response to pandemics, and lead to new cancer treatments.

The Fellowships were presented at the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences Annual Meeting 2021 on Wednesday 27 October.

[continue reading…]

Faster treatments for future pandemics

Associate Professor Daniel Watterson, The University of Queensland
2022 CSL Centenary Fellow

Portrait of 2022 CSL Centenary Fellow Professor Daniel Watterson (Photo credit: The University of Queensland)

Associate Professor Daniel Watterson, at The University of Queensland will use his $1.25 million CSL Centenary Fellowship to develop new ways of rapidly generating treatments to respond to future viral pandemics as they arise.

Viruses have always intrigued him. “They are the most basic form of life, and can help us understand how life works at a fundamental level. We can use that knowledge to develop new therapies and vaccines to save lives,” Daniel says.

Over the past decade Daniel has worked to understand and combat many viruses responsible for human suffering including Dengue, Zika, West Nile and influenza.  

Vaccines have been central to the fight against viral diseases. But the challenge for many viral vaccines is to present the viral spike proteins in precisely the right shape to trigger our immune systems to develop a strong response.

Typically, when spike proteins are made without the rest of the virus, they lose their shape. Daniel is one of the three inventors of the molecular clamp, a technology that holds a virus spike protein in its original form so that an effective immune response can be generated.

He developed the technology working with Professor Paul Young and Associate Professor Keith Chappell at The University of Queensland.

“Through my work with the molecular clamp and COVID-19, I learnt is that vaccines aren’t enough. We also need the capability to develop new therapies to protect the health system and the wider community until vaccines become available,” Daniel says.  

He believes the molecular clamp can enable rapid development of such anti-viral drugs. “We’re taking a leaf out of how the human body responds to a new virus. It first creates antibodies that are broadly reactive and can actually prevent infection from a range of different viruses.”

“We’ll be able to repurpose the molecular clamp to identify anti-viral antibodies, make them in the form equivalent to that found when the body responds to a completely novel viral threat, and deliver them to patients using mRNA” Daniel says.

“The $1.25 million CSL Centenary Fellowship gives me the freedom to step back and take a bigger picture look at how we can tackle viruses. I believe we will be able to develop new therapies against emerging viral pathogens before they’re able to become anything like a pandemic.”


Photographs of Daniel Watterson

Portrait of 2022 CSL Centenary Fellow Professor Daniel Watterson (Photo credit: The University of Queensland)
Portrait of 2022 CSL Centenary Fellow Professor Daniel Watterson (Photo credit: The University of Queensland)
Professor Daniel Watterson
Portrait of 2022 CSL Centenary Fellow Professor Daniel Watterson (Photo credit: CSL)
Daniel Watterson
2022 CSL Centenary Fellow Professor Daniel Watterson at work in his lab (Photo credit: CSL)

Video

Investigating the DNA factory in our bodies that makes … just about everything

Dr Stephin Vervoort, WEHI and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
2022 CSL Centenary Fellow

Stephin Vervoort

Dr Stephin Vervoort will use his CSL Centenary Fellowship to unravel fundamental steps in transcription of DNA into mRNA, and then apply that knowledge to identify possible small-molecule drugs to attack acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and other hard to treat cancers.

“We used to regard gene regulation as a fairly simple on/off system. We now know that things are much more complicated,” Stephin says.

“Now we understand that there’s a multi-layered regulatory network that controls when and where genes should be activated. It’s critical for normal development. In fact, when this regulatory system breaks, it can result in disease.”

Stephin studies a vital component of this network – RNA polymerase II. He describes it as a molecular factory. It transcribes DNA into mRNA and its work is regulated by many molecular factors.

“What we’ve also come to realise is that recurrent mutations in the key components that regulate this machine are causal factors for many blood cancers.

In particular, this dysregulation of transcription is a feature of AML. And these cancers are difficult to manage and treat.

Stephin’s passion is to deepen our understanding of transcriptional regulation and to apply it to cancer.

He joined Professor Ricky Johnstone’s team at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in 2015, where he established genome-wide investigations in transcription.

Now, with the support of the CSL Centenary Fellowship, he is setting up his own laboratory at WEHI where he plans to get to the heart of the matter. “I want to understand how RNA polymerase II works in a comprehensive and systemic manner,” he says.

“Then I want to understand how this is dysregulated in cancer. And finally I want to use that knowledge to identify possible small-molecule drugs that could target AML and other cancers.”

It’s a bold, multidisciplinary plan that will bring together molecular biology, state-of-the-art genomics, bioinformatics and small-molecule inhibitors. “Over the next decade, I hope my work will benefit cancer patients significantly by opening up new treatment avenues that have the potential to increase survival and improve overall quality of life,” Stephin says.


Photographs of Stephin Vervoort

Stephin Vervoort
2022 CSL Centenary Fellow Dr Stephin Vervoort at WEHI (Photo credit: CSL)
Stephin Vervoort
2022 CSL Centenary Fellow Dr Stephin Vervoort at WEHI (Photo credit: CSL)
Stephin Varvoort
Portrait of 2022 CSL Centenary Fellow Dr Stephin Vervoort (Photo credit: CSL)

Video

$2.5 million CSL Centenary Fellowships announced

Could Frizzled proteins lead to new cancer drugs? (Melbourne)

A new way to fight drug-resistant bacteria (Canberra)

Two Australian scientists have each been awarded CSL Centenary Fellowships, valued at $1.25 million over five years, to investigate new ways to fight two of the world’s biggest health challenges: cancer and infectious diseases. The Fellowships will be presented at the Australian Academy for Health and Medical Research Online Scientific Meeting 2020 on Thursday 15 October.

[continue reading…]

Could Frizzled proteins lead to new cancer drugs?

Dr Alisa Glukhova, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne

Alisa Glukhova is investigating a fundamental cell communication system that guides the growth of embryos but, when it goes wrong, can contribute to cancer and other diseases.

By determining the structure and shape of the Frizzled protein, she hopes to create a path to new kinds of cancer drugs.

The cells in our body need to be told when to grow, what to become, when to multiply – even when to die.

[continue reading…]

A new way to fight drug-resistant bacteria

Professor Si Ming Man, John Curtin School of Medical Research, Australian National University, Canberra

Si Ming Man is tackling central questions of immunology: how do disease-fighting proteins produced by the immune system recognise pathogens, and how can these natural defence mechanisms be harnessed to fight infectious diseases?

The answers could lead to alternatives to over-used and increasingly ineffective antibiotics, providing new ways to combat multidrug-resistant microbes.

[continue reading…]

$2.5 million CSL Centenary Fellowships announced

Curing the ‘hidden malaria’ in Asia/Pacific (Darwin)

A path to personalised treatment for most cancers (Adelaide)

Two Australian scientists have each been awarded AUD$1.25 million CSL Centenary Fellowships over five years to improve treatments for two of the world’s biggest health challenges: malaria and cancer. The Fellowships will be presented in Perth at the Australian Academy for Health and Medical Research Gala Dinner on 10 October.

[continue reading…]

Curing the “hidden” malaria

Dr Kamala Thriemer, Darwin

Dr Kamala Thriemer will use her $1.25 million CSL Centenary Fellowship to develop and optimise treatment programs against vivax malaria in SE Asia and the Horn of Africa.

Photo credit: Stepping Stone Films

Vivax malaria is the second largest cause of malaria deaths and is hard to treat as the parasite can hide in the liver and re-emerge months later. Her studies have shown that as few as one in ten patients successfully complete the long course of treatment.

Kamala is a public health researcher at the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin.

[continue reading…]

A path to personalised treatment for most cancers

Associate Professor Daniel Thomas, Adelaide

Dan Thomas has developed new ways to identify a cancer’s weakness and target it with personalised treatment. He’s already treating acute myeloid leukaemia patients in Adelaide.

Photo credit: Stepping Stone Films

His $1.25 million CSL Centenary Fellowship will facilitate his return from Stanford University to the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and The University of Adelaide.

Daniel began his academic career with a PhD in haematology from the University of Adelaide.

[continue reading…]

Brisbane scientists awarded $2.5m in first CSL Centenary Fellowships

  • Is long term memory stored in DNA, and what does it mean for Alzheimer’s?
  • Changing the odds from one in 10 for older leukaemia patients
  • Scientists available for interview.  

Two Brisbane scientists have each been awarded an AUD$1.25 million, five-year CSL Centenary Fellowship to further research that aims to help patients beat leukaemia and examine the origins of memory to better understand Alzheimer’s disease.

Full profiles, photos, HD footage available:

CSL media release: www.scienceinpublic.com.au/media-releases/csl-fellows

Overlay available via Dropbox: www.dropbox.com/sh/aujr04spwvx7ecp/AAArPfLhh8vXMaZhEEXzSAG9a?dl=0 

For more email Niall Byrne niall@scienceinpublic.com.au or call Toni Stevens (03) 9398 1416, 0401 763 130

Professor Geoff Faulkner and Associate Professor Steven Lane are the inaugural Fellows in a $25 million program established by CSL in its centenary year to support Australia’s best and brightest biomedical researchers—fostering excellence in medical research by supporting mid-career scientists to pursue world-class research at an Australian institution.

Professor Geoff Faulkner from the University of Queensland thinks long-term memory might be stored in our brain’s DNA and he’ll test his theory in brains affected by Alzheimer’s.

Today, 85 per cent of children with leukaemia can be cured, but the outlook for patients over 60 is bleak, with only 10 per cent surviving beyond one year as their cancer adapts to weather the storm of standard chemotherapy treatments. Steven wants to change that outlook.

[continue reading…]