Blood cancers

Haematologist wins Academy Award

Wednesday, 10 Mar 2021


Professor Mark Dawson of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre has been recognised by the Australian Academy of Science with one of its 2021 honorific awards for outstanding contribution to science.

Professor Dawson, program head of the Translational Haematology Program at Peter Mac, has been awarded the 2021 Jacques Miller Medal by the Academy for his work in epigenetics.

His research interests include work on bromodomain and extra-terminal (BET) protein regulation of malignant gene expression and how it be inhibited, which has led to  several BET inhibitors now in clinical development in Phase 1 and 2 trials.

“Professor Dawson’s ground-breaking research has provided several novel first-in-class cancer therapies which he has taken from laboratory discovery through to clinical application by leading several international clinical trials as Principal Investigator,” the Academy said.

“My work has largely been around the area of understanding the role that various epigenetic regulators play in cancer development and progression, and using that information to design and develop new drugs, which are first-in-class drugs that add to the armamentarium a cancer doctor has, to try and change the natural history of various aggressive cancers,” said Professor Dawson.

He said he hoped the award would encourage more doctors to consider a role as clinician-scientist.

“I think it’s a fascinating career. It is a difficult career, because you are working at the same level in two different disciplines. Yet I hope in some way, recognition such as this helps to inspire the next generation of clinician scientists,”

According to the Academy, the Jacques Miller Medal for Experimental Biomedicine was established to honour the contributions made to science by Professor Jacques Miller AC FAA FRS that include the discovery of the function of the thymus and the identification, in mammalian species, of the two major subsets of lymphocytes and their functions.

The award is open to experimental biomedicine researchers eight to fifteen years post PhD in the calendar year of nomination, except in the case of significant interruptions to a research career.

President of the Australian Academy of Science, Professor John Shine, said the research of this year’s 24 awardees was at the forefront of science, not only in Australia but around the world.

“While many of these researchers are having direct impacts on our technology and everyday lives, others are pushing the boundaries of basic research—both of which are vital to the advancement of science.

“The Academy is proud to honour such a diverse range of researchers this year, reflecting the people driving Australian science.”

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