Advancing discoveries

Advancing discoveries

Doug Hilton and Gabrielle Belz in lab

There are four key areas that represent our best hope for future advances in health and medicine. Government funding for medical research has plateaued over the last five years and as competition for resources becomes fiercer, there has been a marked tendency to fund safer, more conservative research.

You can help make these advances a reality:

1. Advancing personalised medicine

In 2003, after 15 years work and an investment of $3 billion, the first human genome sequence was unveiled. Ten years later, we can sequence a human genome overnight and for less than $1,000. This remarkable advance means our biologists, mathematicians and computational scientists can collaborate with their clinical colleagues in adjacent hospitals to routinely use genomic information in diagnosing and treating patients.

Our vision is to be able to tailor the most effective therapies for a patient, and identify potential targets for new improved therapies.

2. Eureka funding

Some of the biggest advances in medical research come from out of left field. With Eureka funding, scientists will have the time and space to flex their creativity and explore ideas to their full potential.

In 2013 researchers in the Infection and Immunity division, along with collaborators, made the surprising discovery that malaria parasites can ‘talk’ to each other. This ability to communicate improves the parasite’s chance of survival and transmission to other humans. The unexpected discovery fundamentally changed our view of the malaria parasite, and it is hoped this will lead to new antimalarial drugs or vaccines for preventing malaria.

We want our researchers to think outside of the box. With Eureka funding we can support them in doing so. 

3. Bridging the ‘Valley of Death’

One of the major bottlenecks in medical research is moving from the identification of a disease mechanism or therapeutic target to the discovery of a potential new medicine. The funding between target discovery and clinical trial is a no-man’s land, which has been termed the valley of death.

We are unique in Australia in having biologists, chemists and structural biologists who are committed to collaboration and have a wonderful track record of drug discoveries that have improved the lives of millions of patients; however the resources we have available to promote these collaborations are severely limiting.

4. Technological innovation

Increasingly our scientists work collaboratively with technical specialists in microscopy, imaging, genomics and other advanced technologies. Being able to work at the frontiers of the latest technology significantly advances our understanding of the biological world.

We need to support scientists and technologists to work together if we are to tackle some of the most challenging health issues facing humankind. Investing in the latest equipment is only half the story.

Help advance medical discoveries

If you would like to support one of our exciting key areas of discovery research, please contact Sally Elford on 03 9345 2345 or