2020 RAI Awardees Announced

Four Australian medical researcher programs have been awarded a CSL Research Acceleration Initiative partnership, including a $500,000 AUD investment in each program over two years, to fast-track the discovery of innovative biotherapies to address unmet patient needs.

The CSL Research Acceleration Initiative establishes partnerships between CSL and global research organisations and includes funding as well as access to CSL R&D experts.

Marthe D’Ombrain, CSL’s Head of Global Research Innovation said, “Australian researchers have an excellent reputation globally for producing high quality, novel research. The CSL Research Acceleration Initiative is designed to enhance research commercialisation through partnerships in promising discovery programs.

“Through these partnerships, CSL provides valuable access to our deep R&D expertise and we work alongside world-class researchers who are at the forefront of innovation. Ultimately we hope that these partnerships will lead to a stronger pipeline of promising discoveries being translated into new medicines.”

Recipients of the 2020 funding round include researchers from the University of Western Australia, The University of Queensland and two groups from QIMR Berghofer. Their proposals address a wide range of diseases aligned with CSL’s therapeutic areas, including immunology, cardiovascular, respiratory, and transplant.

The investigators and technologies selected in the 2020 program include:

Professor Livia Hool, The University of Western Australia

Professor Hool is developing a novel therapeutic for the treatment of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, an inherited heart disorder that affects over 20 million people globally and is the leading cause of sudden cardiac death in people under 35. Researching a new drug candidate, she aims to treat or even prevent the development of hypertrophy – a condition in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick.

Associate Professor Mark Coulthard and Professor Trent Woodruff, University of Queensland

Professor Woodruff and Associate Professor Coulthard are developing a new therapeutic candidate to prevent and repair damage to the thin membrane that lines the inside of the heart and blood vessels known as endothelial tissue. It is hoped this candidate may improve patient recovery and survival in solid organ transplant. It may also be used to treat patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome, a life threatening illness that can develop as a consequence of pneumonia or sepsis.

Associate Professor Michelle Wykes, QIMR Berghofer

Associate Professor Wykes is exploring a new immunological target for the treatment of rare autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjogren’s syndrome, and dermatomyositis. Associate Professor Wykes and CSL will work to develop and test a therapeutic candidate that may improve the lives of people living with these rare autoimmune conditions.

Professor Christian Engwerda, QIMR Berghofer

Professor Engwerda is investigating an immunological target to improve stem cell transplantation and treat autoimmune conditions as well as Graft vs Host Disease (GvHD). GvHD is the most common life-threatening complication of hematopoietic stem cell transplantations, which most typically involve the transplant of healthy donor cells to patients with blood or bone marrow cancers. GvHD is the primary factor limiting the success of such treatments.

Dr D’Ombrain said that the 2020 Research Acceleration Initiative recipients work in important areas of medical research where there is often limited or no existing treatment for patient conditions. “We look forward to helping transform these ideas into ground-breaking therapies to improve the lives of people living with these conditions.”

The 2021 CSL Research Acceleration Initiative is now underway.

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