Dr Georgina Hollway, Prof Peter Currie and Dr Phong Nguyen
27 August 2015
Dr Georgina Hollway, from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, and Professor Peter Currie and Dr Phong Nguyen of the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute at Monash University, have won the UNSW 2015 Eureka Prize for Scientific Research. They were awarded the prize in recognition of their groundbreaking research into stem cell generation.
The team uncovered a process that is crucial for the formation of haematopoietic stem cells, a very special group of cells that ultimately generate all the blood and immune cells in our bodies.
They described a novel group of “buddy cells” that are required for haematopoietic stem cells to form. The buddy cells were observed to migrate from one region within zebrafish embryos to another, stimulating the formation of new haematopoietic stem cells upon their arrival.
The finding, which was published last year in the prestigious journal Nature, moves us closer to one of the Holy Grails of modern medicine – being able to make haematopoietic stem cells in the laboratory.
A freely available supply of these blood stem cells would be of enormous therapeutic benefit for treating a wide range of diseases, including cancers and other disorders of the blood and immune system.
Presented annually by the Australian Museum, the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes reward excellence in the fields of research and innovation, leadership, science communication and journalism and school science. Drs Hollway and Nguyen and Prof Currie were awarded their prize at last night’s gala dinner at the Sydney Town Hall.