Image: Dr Paul Gilson (left) is presented with the 2019 Frank Fenner Award by Burnet Director and CEO Professor Brendan Crabb AC
Dr Paul Gilson cast himself as ‘the conductor’ and thanked his students for their outstanding contribution to his laboratory’s research in accepting Burnet Institute’s highest individual honour, the Frank Fenner Award for 2019.
The Head of Burnet’s Cell Imaging Facility, Co-Head of Burnet’s Malaria Virulence and Drug Discovery Group, and Co-Head (with Director and CEO Professor Brendan Crabb AC) of the Gilson/Crabb Laboratory, Dr Gilson has a special interest and expertise in how malaria parasites invade and thrive in human red blood cells and avoid host immunity.
His research over more than a decade at Burnet has helped to improve our understanding of these basic cellular processes to accelerate the development of new drugs and vaccines to combat malaria.
In his presentation, entitled Seeing is believing: Using live cell imaging for malaria research, Dr Gilson demonstrated many of the videos and techniques that have made him a pioneer in this field.
He said he was honoured and grateful to receive the Fenner Award for 2019.
“I’d like to thank my peers for awarding me this prize, I’d like to thank Brendan for all his support and enthusiasm over many years, but most importantly I would like to thank all the students and post-docs, numbering about 30, who have passed through the lab over the time I’ve been here,” Dr Gilson said.
“Really, Brendan and I are just the conductors, it’s the post-docs and the students who have really done the lion’s share of the work.”
In his introduction to the 2019 Fenner Lecture, Burnet Deputy Director Associate Professor David Anderson described Dr Gilson as a worthy winner of the award.
Image: Dr Gilson with students and researchers from Burnet’s Eliminate Malaria Program
“Paul has driven a lot of the molecular biology and especially all the imaging work on malaria that still shows us so much of what’s happening with this parasite that molecular biology couldn’t tell us, and the two sides to that story really complement each other so well,” Associate Professor Anderson said.
“Many of you will be aware of a recent collaborative study with Oxford where Burnet’s imaging work led by Paul was really able to nail some new findings on malaria vaccine development, and Paul’s development of a malaria drug development program targeting parasite invasion, again being able to use all those imaging skills.”
The Frank Fenner Award acknowledges significant contribution to Burnet’s vision and mission in the areas of medical research and public health, and is named after the great Australian virologist, the late Professor Frank Fenner AC.
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