University researchers among 2021 Eureka Prize winners

The sandstone Old Quad with a courtyard lawn and camellia tree in the centre
The Eureka Prizes are awarded for excellence in the fields of research & innovation, leadership, science engagement and school science.

The Australian Museum’s annual science award, the Eureka Prize has recognised the work of University of Melbourne researchers in infectious diseases and defence science and technology.

Professor Julie Bines, from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) and University of Melbourne, has been awarded the Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre Eureka Prize for Infectious Diseases Research for her work leading the development of the RV3-BB newborn rotavirus vaccine that will prevent rotavirus gastroenteritis from birth.

Rotavirus is a major cause of death among children and despite evidence of vaccine effectiveness, significant barriers to access remain. The safe, effective and affordable RV3-BB vaccine could potentially save thousands of lives.

Professor Bines said the prize was an acknowledgement of the work of clinicians and scientists over 40 years and four countries – Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and Malawi – and a great example of the importance of clinical and scientific collaboration to tackle challenges in global child health.

“All of these people have shared a common dream, to prevent death and suffering in young children due to rotavirus gastroenteritis,” she said.

“There are so many people who are among the many who have contributed to this work.”

The success builds on the collaborative efforts of many clinicians and scientists including Graeme Barnes (MCRI, Royal Childrens Hospital), Don Cameron (RCH), Ruth Bishop (MCRI), Ian Holmes (Microbiology and Immunology), Carl Kirkwood (MCRI), and Yati Soenarto (Universitas Gadjah Mada Indonesia), all of whom have contributed to the project.

Associate Professor Toby Murray and Dr Robert Sison have been awarded the Defence Science and Technology Eureka Prize for Outstanding Science in Safeguarding Australia for their work on the Cross Domain Desktop Compositor. The University of Melbourne team, in collaboration with Defence Science and Technology Group, UNSW and CSIRO’s Data61, have bucked the trend towards more complex computing systems to build a simple, secure and trustworthy method for keeping sensitive information secure from internet attacks.

Project lead Associate Professor Murray said he was delighted, alongside his co-entrants, to accept the prize.

“Our project, The Cross Domain Desktop Compositor, demonstrates what is possible when Australian institutions collaborate to develop sovereign capability unmatched elsewhere in the world,” he said.

“Our project builds on decades of Australian innovation and this award recognises the many individuals who have contributed from DST Group, CSIRO, University of Melbourne, UNSW, and industry.”

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor James McCluskey congratulated the winners.

“These awards recognise the world-class expertise at the University of Melbourne. Each day we carry out research to solve complex challenges and enrich our knowledge of the world around us,” he said.

“These awards also attest to the power of collaboration, sometimes across international borders, which often is the key to success.”

The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are awarded for excellence in the fields of research & innovation, leadership, science engagement and school science.

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