From cancer to cars, scholars boost Menzies’ contribution to society

From the development of a mouse with a human immune system to help design cancer drugs to improving the efficiency of vehicles running on renewable fuels, Menzies Foundation scholars are making a significant contribution to Australian life.

The scholarships—which provide funds towards first class research or education in Australia, the US or UK—have boosted the careers of more than 180 of Australia’s leading graduates in allied health sciences, engineering, medicine, science, law and the humanities.

They include:

  • Dr Nick Huntington, whose 2006 NHMRC/RG Menzies Fellowship took him to the Pasteur Institute in Paris where he spent five and a half years as a postdoctoral fellow developing a “humanised” mouse, in which the immune system has been replaced by one that incorporates human cells. As a Senior Research Officer in the Molecular Immunology Department at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, he is now using these mice in studies of how the human immune system develops from stem cells, and to generate accurate models of human blood cell cancers such leukaemia and lymphoma. “We are using these models in collaboration with drug companies to design therapies to treat these diseases,” he says.
  • Dr Rohan Shekhar, the 2008 Menzies Scholar in Engineering, who went to Cambridge University to undertake his PhD. He is now a Research Fellow in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at The University of Melbourne investigating how to use automated tuning to improve the efficiency of engines running on renewable fuels. His doctoral research focused on improving the performance of Variable Horizon Model Predictive Control, a technology particularly suited to the automation of vehicles and other machinery, such as mining equipment.
  • Associate Professor John Hooper, who was awarded a Menzies Memorial Scholarship in Medicine in 2000 and now leads the Cancer Biology Laboratory at the Mater Medical Research Institute in Brisbane. During his PhD and post-doctoral work at The Scripps Research Institute in California and the Queensland University of Technology, he identified new markers and proteins involved in the progression of cancer. His current research is focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms underpinning aggressive prostate, bowel and ovarian cancer.
  • Professor Julian Savulescu who won a Menzies Scholarship in Medicine in 1994 and now holds the Uehiro Chair in Practical Ethics Professor of Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford. He is trained in medicine, bioethics and analytic philosophy. Before moving to Oxford in 2002 he was Director of the Ethics Program at the Murdoch Children’s Research Unit, University of Melbourne, following a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery at Monash University and a PhD in philosophy under the supervision of Professor Peter Singer. He is engaged in research, education and stimulating open discussion around the ethical issues arising in everyday life.

For further information, please contact Niall Byrne or Tim Thwaites at Science in Public (03) 9398 1416.