The Corona Queens, three University of Melbourne researchers who mapped the immune response to COVID-19, and a science journalist’s compelling tale about an Antarctic endeavour are among the 2023 Eureka Prize winners, announced last night.
Joining them are two honorary University of Melbourne researchers for their pioneering approach to cancer treatment.
Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre Eureka Prize for Infectious Diseases Research
Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre Eureka Prize for Infectious Diseases Research winners Professor Katherine Kedzierska, Dr Louise Rowntree and Dr Oanh Nguyen.
Professor Katherine Kedzierska, Dr Oanh Nguyen and Dr Louise Rowntree – dubbed the Corona Queens – were recognised for their outstanding contributions to COVID-19 research.
Responding to the global pandemic, they promptly established innovative and multi-disciplinary immune research programs to unravel the intricate immune responses to SARS-CoV-2, and they were the first in the world to report on immunity to SARS-CoV-2 infection in one of Australia’s first COVID-19 patients in March 2020.
The award-winning trio are from the University of Melbourne and the Peter Doherty Institute.
Professor Kedzierska shared the team's gratitude for the recognition in her acceptance speech.
“It is such an honour and privilege to be awarded the 2023 Eureka Prize for Infectious Disease Research,” she said.
“We would like to thank all of our laboratory members, past and present, for contributing to all the discoveries over the last years, which immensely advanced our human immunology studies, so we could be at the forefront of COVID-19 research, in a very supportive environment at the Doherty Institute and The University of Melbourne.”
Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Science Journalism
Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Science Journalism winner Jo Chandler conducting research in Antartica.
Jo Chandler, from the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Advancing Journalism and Editor of its flagship publication The Citizen, was recognised for her longform essay Buried Treasure, published in the Griffith Review.
Buried Treasure follows the most ambitious Australian Antarctic endeavour in a generation. The Walkley Award-winning journalist had tracked the story for over a decade before pitching her article, which skilfully navigates urgent questions about science, our heating planet and the human condition.
Ms Chandler was quick to acknowledge the generosity of scientists in sharing their work.
“Telling stories of epic science, and the scientists who do it, is one of the great privileges of journalism,” she said.
“This award really comes out of the generosity of countless scientists over the years sharing their work, experts across the spectrum - glaciologists, epidemiologists, entomologists, biologists, atmospheric scientists, you name it.”
UNSW Eureka Prize for Scientific Research
UNSW Eureka Prize for Scientific Research winners Associate Professor Tim Thomas and Professor Anne Voss .
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research (WEHI) researchers Associate Professor Tim Thomas and Professor Anne Voss were recognised for their pioneering work on a novel approach to cancer treatment.
The prize recognises their ground-breaking research in developing a new class of drugs that can put cancer cells ‘to sleep’ without triggering the harmful side effects caused by conventional cancer treatments, like chemotherapy and radiation.
Professor Voss, Joint Head of WEHI’s Epigenetics and Development Division, said the pair was honoured and humbled to be Eureka Prize recipients.
“This win is a testament to the collaborative power and the unwavering commitment of so many colleagues that has underpinned our work towards finding better treatments for a disease that still impacts millions of people worldwide,” she said.
“This new class of drug compounds stop cancer cells from dividing and proliferating by switching off their ability to continue the cell cycle. This stops the cancer cells in their track, preventing them from spreading.
“Crucially, in arresting tumour growth, the new compounds do not damage the cells’ DNA, which is a critical difference between this new class of compounds and standard cancer therapies.”
The award-winning pair hold honorary positions at the University of Melbourne.
See here for all the 2023 Eureka Prize winners.