From the director

From the director

Illuminate newsletter index page, June 2018
June 2018

Professor Lynn Corcoran Early Learning Centre
The Professor Lynn Corcoran Early Learning Centre
located on the Institute’s Parkville campus forecourt.

As we near the middle of 2018, I’m thrilled that – after many years of planning and a year of construction – the new Professor Lynn Corcoran Early Learning Centre will soon open.

The five-storey, 100-place centre is located on the Institute’s Parkville campus forecourt.

Very soon, many Institute parents will have their young children cared for a few steps away from their workplace. This will be a significant support for these parents and have many positive impacts on the entire Institute workforce.

The centre is named in honour of Professor Lynn Corcoran, a long-time Institute researcher and champion of gender equity and initiatives to support female researchers at the Institute.

We are extremely proud of this facility, which will be a first for an Australian independent medical research institute, and was made possible by the generous support of government and private donors.

My heartfelt thanks to everyone involved, whose hard work and dedication over many years has made this centre a reality.

Leading the fight against brain cancer

Several years ago, in recognition of significant community need, the Institute began to increase its involvement in brain cancer research. Brain cancer kills more Australian children than any other disease. Unlike many other cancer types, brain cancer has not seen improvements in patient survival or treatment options in the past 30 years. We are committed to changing that.

Professor Doug Hilton and Dr Misty Jenkins
Professor Doug Hilton and Dr Misty Jenkins wearing
Beanies 4 Brain Cancer.

Our researchers are investigating several different approaches to treating brain cancer. These include testing new medicines targeting proteins in brain cancer cells that drive either cancer growth or immortality, and developing new, personalised immunotherapies that
‘supercharge’ our body’s own anti-cancer immune responses. We are working closely with clinicians with the goal of rapidly translating our research to benefit patients.

Our brain cancer research program would not be possible without the support of several important donors – Carrie’s Beanies 4 Brain Cancer Foundation, Cure Brain Cancer Foundation, Financial Markets Foundation for Children and the Robert Connor Dawes Foundation. You can read more about the Robert Connor Dawes Foundation on page seven.

New Metcalf Scholars

Many of our researchers – including me – had their first taste of medical research as an undergraduate. My interest in blood development was piqued by a summer spent with Professor Ian Young in Canberra in the 1980s, and more than 30 years later it’s a field I’m still passionate about.

The generosity of donors to our Metcalf Scholarship Fund has this year enabled five outstanding undergraduates to begin their research journeys with us.

I would like to congratulate our 2018 Metcalf Scholars. Their projects are as follows:

  • Yong See Foo, supervised by Professor Tony Papenfuss, will develop and apply new bioinformatics and visualisation methods to make sense of cancer data.
  • Erya Ni, supervised by Dr Anna Coussens, will investigate factors in a cell's environment that influence tuberculosis-HIV co-infection.
  • Kate Ellen O’Hara, supervised by Associate Professor Aaron Jex and Professor Melanie Bahlo, will investigate the water borne pathogen Giardia using high dimensional biological data and analysis.
  • Aileen Kamai, supervised by Dr Ethan Goddard-Borger, will develop methods to reduce mucus viscosity for the treatment of respiratory diseases.
  • Hongyang Yong, working in Professor Jerry Adams' laboratory, will be investigating cell death and cancer.

It was also terrific to see our 2017 Metcalf Scholar Richard Yan receive a 2018 Dean’s Honours Award from the University of Melbourne for graduating as a top student in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences.

Super Content: 
Professor Don Metcalf with staff and students

As a tribute to a scientist, known the world over as ‘the father of modern haematology’, the Metcalf Scholarship Fund has been established to support promising young researchers.

Photo of large group of alumni members

Keep in contact and share reminiscences with fellow alumni