Inaugural Gust Translational Fellowship winner, Dr Jack Richards
Burnet Laboratory Head and malaria researcher Dr Jack Richards is the inaugural winner of a new Burnet Institute award, The Gust Translational Fellowship.
The Gust Translational Fellowship was established with a gift to the Institute by Professor Ian Gust AO, founding Director of Burnet Institute, and his wife Dr Diane Long.
The annual Fellowship is a competitive award in support of translational research activities at the Institute specifically targeted at early career researchers.
“It’s a real honour to receive this award and its association with Ian Gust, whose work aligned so closely with what the Institute aims to achieve,” Dr Richards said.
“It highlights the strengths of Burnet, taking work from basic science through to medical and public health implementation work, and that’s the direction that I will be using this fellowship towards.”
Burnet Director and CEO Professor Brendan Crabb said the standard of applications was outstanding.
“It was Jack’s highly translational focus on developing novel point-of-care diagnostics to support malaria elimination that made him the standout candidate for the award,” Professor Crabb said.
“I would like to warmly congratulate Jack on this prestigious award.”
Dr Richards’ research seeks to identify antibody responses that confer protection from symptomatic malaria and subsequent malaria vaccine development.
“There’s several projects that will be advanced because of the fellowship, and a lot of those revolve around disease surveillance and the diagnosis of disease in a low-resource world context,” Dr Richards said.
“That includes diagnostics for G6PD, the glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase enzyme, which is an important genetically-inherited condition that has implications for how we treat malaria safely.
“The other major disease diagnosis area that we’re working on is how to diagnose people with very low densities of parasites, so we’re able to eliminate malaria rather than just treat the sick people.
“We’re really interested to diagnose everyone that’s infected now and try to eliminate malaria, and that’s a new project that we’ve got to look at, high-sensitivity testing for malaria.”
Dr Richards has ongoing collaborations in Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste, and continues to practice as an infectious diseases physician at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.