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08 Aug 2019

Dr Simone Park a 2019 Centenary Institute Medical Innovation Awards finalist

University of Melbourne Dr Simone Park, a Research Officer at the Doherty Institute, has been named as o­­ne of two finalists in the 2019 Centenary Institute Medical Innovation Awards for discovering a potential new approach to treat cancer.

The awards, which recognise and celebrate Australia’s inspiring young researchers who are challenging the big questions of medical research, has a prize pool in excess of $50,000 on offer. The finalists and their ground-breaking discoveries have now been officially announced.

Dr Park’s research is focused on understanding how the immune system can be targeted and/or activated to treat disease including cancer.

“I discovered that specialised immune cells – known as tissue-resident memory T (TRM) cells – could suppress the growth of melanoma cancer cells without completely eliminating them.” Dr Park said.

“In identifying that TRM cells are critical players in the anti-cancer immune response, I believe that the targeting of these cells could open the door to a new and innovative strategy to improve cancer treatments.”

Dr Park was chosen from 32 entries submitted for the Centenary Institute Medical Innovation Awards, representing 22 research institutions and universities, across five Australian states.

“The selection of the two finalists was the result of careful consideration from a line-up of distinguished judges comprising some of the most prestigious scientists around the world,” Centenary Institute Executive Director Professor Mathew Vadas said.

“It is enormously exciting to see the quality of the applications for this award improve each year. Our future, as a high performing and innovative nation in medical research, is firmly linked to the long-term support of these wonderful talents.”

The winner of the top award, the ‘In Memory of Neil Lawrence Prize’ will receive $30,000 from Commonwealth Private to support their research, as well as a perpetual Nick Mount hand blown glass trophy.

The runner-up will receive the ‘Bayer Innovation Award’ and $15,000 to continue to develop their research. One of these two award winners will also be presented the ‘Harvard Club of Australia Foundation Travel Prize’ worth $5,000 for the purpose of travelling to Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA to explore opportunities for collaboration.

Both winning scientists will be recognised at the 2019 Centenary Institute Medical Innovation Awards announcement ceremony, taking place in Sydney on Wednesday, 21 August, 2019.