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02 Nov 2022

Five-year funding for research on new pathways to boost chemotherapy success

Associate Professor Robert Weatheritt has been selected as a Viertel Senior Medical Research Fellow.

Robert Weatheritt

A scientist from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research is one of three researchers to be awarded prestigious Sylvia and Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation Senior Medical Research Fellowships in 2022. Associate Professor Weatheritt, Head of Garvan’s Neurotranscriptomics Lab, will receive $1.375 million over five years to support his vital work in cancer research.

The funds awarded to Associate Professor Weatheritt will help address the urgent need for treatments targeting newly discovered pathways. He is the first Garvan researcher to receive a Senior Medical Research Fellowship from the foundation.

Associate Professor Weatheritt’s research has identified a new biological pathway involved in chemotherapy resistance, called P-body formation. P-bodies, also known as processing bodies, are granules of mRNAs and proteins found in the gel-like liquid of a cell. They help prevent tumour cells from converting to cancer stem cells which then develop into pro-metastatic and chemotherapy-resistant cancer stem cells.

By finding out what drug types and combinations can support P-bodies, Associate Professor Weatheritt’s work aims to boost the effectiveness of other cancer treatments.

Professor Peter Croucher, Garvan’s Executive Director (interim) says, “We are proud to see the calibre and potential impact of cutting-edge research at Garvan recognised in the awarding of this prestigious fellowship. Our congratulations go to Associate Professor Weatheritt on this achievement and we extend thanks to the Sylvia and Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation for its support of our urgent work to improve cancer treatment.”

Professor Peter Leedman, Chairman of the Viertel Foundation’s Medical Advisory Board, said the candidates for 2022 exhibited talent and commitment when presenting at the annual Viertel Symposium in October.

“Our congratulations go not just to the recipients of this year’s awards, but to all applicants who presented to the Advisory Board. We are proud, honoured – and above all, impressed and filled with hope for the future of medical research in Australia when we look at the projects underway and the people who dedicate themselves to this work,” said Professor Leedman in a statement.

Associate Professor Weatheritt joined the Garvan Institute of Medical Research as a Lab Head and EMBL Australia Group Leader in June 2018.

Since 1995, the Viertel Foundation has awarded a total of 61 Senior Medical Research Fellowships and 149 Clinical Investigator awards, supporting ongoing research into important medical and health conditions and their potential treatments.


Associate Professor Weatheritt is co-appointed at the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences (BABS), Faculty of Science, UNSW Sydney.