2020 Metcalf Prizes for Stem Cell Research

Media releases, National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia

Mystery proteins reveal how embryos and cancers grow – Melanie Eckersley-Maslin, Melbourne

Genes may hold key to leukaemia survival – Steven Lane, Brisbane

Winners of the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia’s Metcalf Prizes announced today

12 January 2021

Scientists available for interviews:

Using stem cell research to fight cancer has won two Australian researchers $55,000 each in the annual Metcalf Prizes for Stem Cell Research, awarded by the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia.

Dr Melanie Eckersley-Maslin—a new recruit of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre—believes the proteins which control the growth of cells in embryos could teach us how to stop the uncontrolled growth of cells in cancer.

Vital to normal development in early life, these molecules may later play a role in the early stages of cancer or help it spread. If so, we could target them therapeutically and block or slow progression of the disease.

Associate Professor Steven Lane of the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute wants to lift the survival rates of his leukaemia patients. He thinks the key could lie in the genetic fingerprints of the blood cancer stem cells that proliferate the disease.

Steven is studying how these cells become resistant to treatment through genetic changes. He will use the knowledge to develop more effective and tailored therapies, both to prevent and treat potentially fatal relapses.

The scientists have been recognised by the Foundation for their early-career leadership in stem cell research.

“Melanie Eckersley-Maslin and Steven Lane are taking two very different stem cell research approaches to understand, prevent and treat different types of cancer,” says Dr Graeme Blackman AO, the chairman of the Foundation.

The awards are named for the late Professor Donald Metcalf AC who, over a 50-year career, helped transform cancer treatment and transplantation medicine, paving the way for potential stem cell therapy in the treatment of many other conditions.

Read more about the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia: www.stemcellfoundation.net.au.


Media contacts:

Tanya Ha, Science in Public, 0404 083 863, tanya@scienceinpublic.com.au
Niall Byrne, Science in Public, 0417 131 977, niall@scienceinpublic.com.au

About the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia

The NSCFA is an ATO-registered, tax-deductible health promotion charity dedicated to promoting the study and responsible use of stem cells to reduce the burden of disease.

The Foundation’s activities include:

The Foundation is led by an expert volunteer Board, with a diversity of scientific, medical and governance experience. The Chairman is Dr Graeme Blackman, AO, FTSE, FAICD.

The Board consults with leading stem cell scientists before committing funds to research and education initiatives.

More at: www.stemcellfoundation.net.au