Image: Professor Brendan Crabb with the 2019 GSK Award for Research Excellence
Burnet Institute Director and CEO Professor Brendan Crabb AC has been acknowledged for his ground-breaking malaria research with the prestigious 2019 GSK Award for Research Excellence.
Professor Crabb was presented with the award at Research Australia’s Health and Medical Research Awards 2019 in Melbourne for his research to better understand the DNA of the malaria parasite, which has transformed how scientists explore malaria prevention and treatments globally.
Dr Haile developed a plasma separator device to improve blood testing for HIV viral load in resource-limited settings, and Professor Wilson’s Optima modelling has allowed policy outcomes to be better informed by accurate and relevant data.
Professor Crabb was involved in the technical breakthrough of DNA ‘transfection’ of the malaria parasite enabling scientists to manipulate the genome of the malaria parasite.
By tweaking the parasite’s DNA, scientists can discover which mutations are responsible for drug resistance and what parts can be targeted by new medicines and vaccines.
Malaria is one of the leading causes of death and disease burden globally. It was responsible for over 430, 000 deaths in 2017 and 1,200 children die every day of the disease.
“Malaria is one of the most important health problems humans have ever faced. The scale is unimaginable with around 3.2 billion people at risk of the disease,” Professor Crabb said.
“While malaria most significantly impacts the world’s poorest countries near the equator, this has a flow-on effect for Australia. Countries like Papua New Guinea and Indonesia are our neighbours, trading partners and popular travel destinations.
“We need to work collaboratively to help these countries deal with the burden of malaria. It will improve their health and drive greater security and prosperity for all,” he said.
According to Professor Crabb, advancing research at all levels is critical to combatting malaria, as the parasite evolves to develop drug resistance.
“The work of Professor Crabb is testament to the impact home-grown research and innovation can have on a global scale,” Medical Director, GSK Australia, Dr Andrew Weekes said.
“We are honoured to recognise and support research enabling further discoveries and better outcomes for people suffering from global health inequities.”
Professor Crabb said the GSK Award for Research Excellence highlights the power of collaboration and having greater recognition of Australian research.
“Everything I’ve achieved has been done as part of a team. This award also recognises the efforts of my colleagues, teams, industry and patients. I am honoured to have received this award – especially as it draws attention to the fact that many of our human brothers and sisters still suffer enormously from malaria,” Professor Crabb said.
The GSK Award for Research Excellence is one of the most prestigious awards available to the Australian medical research community. It has been awarded since 1980 to recognise outstanding achievements in medical research with potential importance to human health.
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