Malaria researcher Dr Paul Gilson has been presented with the 2012 Gust-McKenzie Medal.
The medal is awarded to a mid-career Burnet Institute staff member in recognition of excellence in research and/or public health.
Dr Gilson investigates how parasites invade human red blood cells where they grow and multiply and how the parasite-infected red blood cells avoid the immune system.
“We are specifically trying to discover how the malaria parasite reads the red blood cell surface and them makes the decision to invade it. Once inside, the malaria parasite synthesizes sticky, Velcro-like proteins and sends them out to the surface of the red blood cell causing the cell to bind to the walls of blood vessels,” Dr Gilson explained.
“This keeps the infected blood cells away from the spleen, a blood-filtering organ that can destroy the infected cells.”
Over the next few years, Dr Gilson hopes to build upon his discoveries and develop drugs that block the parasite’s capacity to invade red blood cells and to export the Velcro-like proteins.
Burnet Institute Director and CEO Professor Brendan Crabb said Dr Gilson is an outstanding young research leader with an already established international reputation in malaria research.
“He and his team have made some remarkable discoveries about malaria parasite biology,” Professor Crabb said.
“And these discoveries open the way to new and much needed drugs to treat what is still one of the world’s most devastating diseases.”
Caption: Dr Paul Gilson being congratulated by (L-R) Professor Brendan Crabb, Professor Ian Gust AO, Emeritus Professor Ian McKenzie AM and Burnet chair, Mr Alastair Lucas.
The Gust-McKenzie Medal is named in honour of the founding Directors of the Burnet and Austin Research Institutes, Professor Ian Gust AO and Emeritus Professor Ian McKenzie AM.
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