BDHP researchers win inaugural CSL Fellowship

19 December 2016

Two BDHP scientists have each been awarded a $1.25 million, five-year, CSL Centenary Fellowship. One of the research - programs aims to help patients beat leukaemia, and the other examines the origins of memory to better understand Alzheimer’s disease. Associate Professor Steven Lane (pictured) and Professor Geoff Faulkner 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. QIMR Berghofer's Associate Professor Lane, is the leader the Haematology Stream of BDHP’s Cancer Theme. He has developed a cutting edge model to rapidly profile the genetics of different types of leukaemia, allowing him to map the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatments against the genomes of individual cancers. “Today, 85% of children with leukaemia can be cured, but the outlook for patients over the age of 60 is bleak, with only 10% surviving their disease,” Professor Lane said. “The reason for this is that in older patients the cancer adapts to become resistant to treatment with chemotherapy. So this fellowship will help me and my team to tailor treatments to individual patients,” he said. “We plan to use this funding to identify new drug targets and to test whether we can use existing drugs to treat resistant types of leukaemia.” 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. Professor Faulkner has already shown that the DNA in our brains is different to that in the rest of our bodies, and that it changes as we learn. He’s proposing that these changes are associated with how we store our long-term memories. With the CSL Centenary Fellowship, he’ll test the idea on brain tissue donated by Alzheimer’s patients to determine if DNA is involved in memory formation, and what the implications of this might be for people living with Alzheimer’s. His research is moving us closer to an understanding of conditions like Alzheimer’s and hopefully towards a cure for this chronic and devastating disease.

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