Direct from Doug

Direct from Doug

Illuminate newsletter header, Spring 2021
September 2021

Photo of Professor Doug Hilton AO
Professor Doug Hilton AO

Welcome to the spring edition of Illuminate.

As I write this, many in Australia – and indeed, around the world – are still living in the shadow of COVID-19.

While it’s certainly a tough time, I think there are some bright spots on the horizon. In Melbourne, we have seen evidence-driven improvements in many facets of how we respond to outbreaks. And many in our community, me included, have taken up the opportunity to protect ourselves and those around us through vaccination.

When I recently received my second dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, I felt a sense of awe that in just a year, the global scientific community has driven the development and trialling of several innovative, safe and efficacious vaccines. I wholeheartedly encourage our entire WEHI community to get vaccinated when you are eligible to do so.

Driving effective research

Thinking about the development of COVID-19 vaccines and the impact they are having right now got me thinking about how WEHI encourages impactful research, both now and into the future. This edition of Illuminate highlights many ‘ingredients’ in this ‘recipe’.

The most important aspect is having amazing people, with curiosity and a passion for making discoveries. We support our researchers to do this by giving them the academic freedom and time to pursue their scientific interests. You can read about one of our newest laboratory heads, Dr Shabih Shakeel.

Individually, our researchers have many talents, but bringing them together in collaborative, multidisciplinary teams can add enormous value, enabling synergy and driving breakthroughs.

Our recent discoveries of potential new therapeutic approaches for brain cancer, demonstrates the power of multidisciplinary collaborations – in this case, between computational biology researcher Associate Professor Melissa Davis and cell biologists at The University of Queensland.

Providing our researchers with the latest, most powerful scientific technologies is another important component of how WEHI enables great science. Our investment in WEHI’s Centre for Dynamic Imaging is one such example that is reaping enormous rewards and facilitating incredible research, such as the work being undertaken by Kylie Luong.

Our research would not be possible without the incredible support of our community. Philanthropic and government funding and the involvement of consumers makes so much of what we do achievable. It is incredibly inspiring to know that people in our community believe in our research – thank you.

Vale Liz Dexter

It was with great sadness that we learnt of the death of Liz Dexter, the daughter of former WEHI director, immunology pioneer and Nobel Laureate Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet. As a young girl in the 1930s, Liz would come into work with her father each Sunday morning, and her connections to WEHI continued into recent years. We offer our sincere sympathies to Liz’s husband Mick, her children and her extended family.

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