Past Winners

The National Foundation for Medical Research and Innovation (NFMRI) was pleased to offer the inaugural Dr John Dixon Hughes Medal for Medical Research Innovation in 2014 to A/Prof Guillaume Lessene, from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.  

Dr John Dixon Hughes OAM (right) presents inaugural Medical Research Innovation Medal to A/Prof Guillaume Lessene

Dr John Dixon Hughes OAM (right) presents inaugural Medical Research Innovation Medal to A/Prof Guillaume Lessene

A/Prof Guillaume Lessene, Walter & Eliza Hall Institute

A/Prof Lessene was recognised  for having broken boundaries in his research to discover and develop drugs that target apoptosis, and for his links with industry in commercialising products for clinical use. Apoptosis is a form of programmed “cell suicide” that normal cells undergo, but that some cancer cells have developed ways to resist. Having been nominated by pre-eminent peers, A/Prof Lessene’s discoveries have led to a potential new anti-cancer agent that could trick cancer cells into committing suicide. The new class of drugs, the so-called ‘BH3-mimetics’ could have a profound impact on cancer therapy. “The clinical potential from this new class of drugs is extraordinary,” says Professor Doug Hilton, director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. He adds, “Other drugs in this class have already demonstrated profound responses in patients with blood cancers. We are very excited about the potential of the new agents being developed by Guillaume and his team for treating cancers that are resistant to cell death.” Professor Hilton stressed that while the impacts of A/Prof Lessene’s and his team’s work was already playing out in both the clinical and commercial spaces, it would take decades for the full implications to be realised.

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Looking beyond the research and considering translational needs when funding research. How well are your expectations, application and review processes, measures of success and funding strategy aligned with the next steps for translation?

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