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30 Nov 2015

Immunologist and Ecologist Win Prestigious 2016 Science Academy Medals

A scientist working to develop a one-shot for life flu vaccine and a renowned environmental scientist have been awarded prestigious Australian Academy of Science medals.

University of Melbourne immunologist Associate Professor Katherine Kedzierska from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity won the 2016 Jacques Miller Medal for experimental biomedicine.

Associate Professor Kedzierska researches immune responses to virus outbreaks, including influenza, with a particular focus on how best to protect vulnerable and high-risk groups. Her cutting edge work could lead to the development of a one-shot flu jab for life.

Professor Sharon Lewin, Director of the Doherty Institute, said Associate Professor Kedzierska’s outstanding translational research was integral to the work of the organisation.

“Katherine is such a deserved recipient of the Jacques Miller Medal and I congratulate her on this outstanding achievement. Earlier this year she made headlines for her research identifying ‘killer’ CD8+ T cells as the best way to protect against a new strain of avian influenza virus emerging from China, a major breakthrough in the search for universal flu vaccine.

“I am also very excited to see these two medals being awarded to two outstanding female scientists.”

Professor Fabienne Mackay, Head of the School of Biomedical Sciences, said this is only the second time the Jacques Miller Medal for Experimental Biomedicine has been awarded.
"We are very proud of Katherine for such an incredible achievement. The honour is a testament to the capability within the University’s biomedical department and the Doherty Institute for producing ground-breaking research with the potential to make a real global impact.”

Dr Jane Elith, who recently won the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science, was awarded the Fenner Medal.

Dr Elith has become one of the world’s most influential researchers in applied ecology. She uses new tools to understand species distribution in the wild, helping to better inform environmental managers and governments on invasive species, land-use and improving biodiversity.

The Academy President, Professor Andrew Holmes called the women ‘inspirational’.

“These scientists are simply inspirational. They are working at the leading edges of their fields and of human knowledge, and they are developing innovations that will change and improve our society, our economy and our health,” Professor Holmes said.

The awards will be formally presented at the Academy’s annual three-day celebration of Australian science, Science at the Shine Dome, in Canberra in May 2016.