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MEDIA RELEASE: Ramaciotti Foundations distribute almost $1.5 million to advance Australian biomedical research



Awards highlight the impact of philanthropy on the health and wellbeing of millions worldwide

Media Release
 
Ramaciotti Foundations distribute almost $1.5 million to advance Australian biomedical research
 
Awards highlight the impact of philanthropy on the health and wellbeing of millions worldwide
 
13 October 2015
 
 
Perpetual, as trustee of the Clive and Vera Ramaciotti Foundations, has revealed the 2015 recipients of the respected Ramaciotti Awards for Biomedical Research. Distributing almost $1.5 million in total to seven biomedical researchers, $1 million of the philanthropic funds will go towards research that has the potential to reduce the cost of medicines worldwide.
 
With past Ramaciotti winners having been responsible for the development of the world’s first cervical cancer vaccines and the Cochlear implant, the awards highlight the significant impact that philanthropy can have on the health and wellbeing of millions of people.
 
The biennial Ramaciotti Biomedical Research Award, worth $1 million, has been granted to Professor David Craik of The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience and Professor Marilyn Anderson of the La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science, La Trobe University.   
 
The award will support Professors Craik and Anderson to establish the Clive and Vera Ramaciotti Facility (CVRF) for Producing Pharmaceuticals in Plants. The CVRF will be a state-of-the-art facility to develop technologies to produce potent next-generation medicines inexpensively. The new drugs may even be incorporated into novel plant products such as bio-pills (seeds), medicinal teas and foods, potentially improving the lives of patients who cannot afford current medications or cannot tolerate the side effects.
 
“We are thrilled to receive the Ramaciotti Biomedical Research Award for our work on using plants as ‘biofactories’ for producing next-generation pharmaceuticals,” said Professor Craik.
 
“This research has great potential to provide medicines inexpensively to patients in both the developed and developing worlds. However, this type of blue sky research falls outside the realm of work typically funded by government or industry so we are particularly grateful to the Ramaciotti Foundations for their support.”
 
Professor Carola Vinuesa of the Australian National University was selected as the recipient of the Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research, an annual award of $50,000 to honour an outstanding discovery in clinical or experimental biomedical research. Professor Vinuesa’s discovery of the ROQUIN family of proteins has opened up new avenues to diagnose and treat autoimmune diseases.
 
Up to $150,000 will also be allocated to each of the four recipients of the Ramaciotti Health Investment Grants. The grants are awarded to autonomous early career scientists to support health or medical research with a potential path to clinical application within five years.
 
The recipients of the 2015 Ramaciotti Health Investment Grants are:
 
ResearcherInstitutionProject title
 
Dr Nikola Bowden 
University of Newcastle (NSW) 
Repurposing traditional chemotherapy to prime advanced melanoma for immune therapy
 
Dr Evelyn Smith 
University of Western Sydney (NSW) 
Obesity, inflammation and cognition: examining their relationship within a randomised controlled trial of cognitive remediation therapy
 
Dr Matt Petoe 
Bionics Institute of Australia (VIC) 
Advanced prosthetic vision: improving patient performance with a second generation Bionic Eye
 
Dr Elin Gray 
Edith Cowan University (WA) 
Circulating tumour DNA to predict and monitor treatment response and detect acquired resistance in patients with metastatic melanoma
 
Commenting on the significance of the awards, Perpetual’s National Manager of Philanthropy and Non Profit Services, Caitriona Fay, said: “The Ramaciotti Foundations are one of the largest private contributors to biomedical research in Australia and have provided essential support to some of our most remarkable scientists since 1970.
 
“As trustee of the Foundations, we have witnessed the life changing impact that philanthropy can have on millions of people. Thanks to Vera Ramaciotti’s vision and the legacy she has created, she has helped shape the futures of not only the recipients, but people worldwide who will benefit from their work,” Ms Fay said.
 
Professor Derek Hart of The University of Sydney led the Ramaciotti Scientific Advisory Committee which directed Perpetual in selecting the grant recipients.
 
On the work of Professors Craik and Anderson, Professor Hart said: “Some science just captures your imagination. The concept of a new type of drug called cyclic peptides that could be produced in plants was irresistible to the Committee and we hope that this early recognition and funding will make a big difference.”
 
“The Committee considered Carola Vinuesa an outstanding scientist whose work on antibody production continues an extraordinary set of Australian contributions in fundamental immunology,” he remarked on the winner of the Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research.
 
“The Health Investment Grants cannot be underestimated in the assistance they provide to our best young researchers as they move their work into practical clinical application. The potential contribution of some of these projects is enormous,” Professor Hart added.
 
This year the Foundations are awarding a total of $1,407,829 to biomedical research through the distribution of the biennial Ramaciotti Biomedical Research Award, the Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research and the Ramaciotti Health Investment Grants. These grants bring the total funds distributed by the Ramaciotti Foundations to almost $56 million since 1970.
 
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Media enquiries:
 
Jarrah Aguera
Honner
02 8248 3745
jarrah@honner.com.au
 
Note to editors
 
About the Ramaciotti Foundations
Managed by Perpetual, the Ramaciotti Foundations started off with $6.7 million in funds in 1970 with the first major grant going to the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in 1971. This assisted with the establishment of the new Clive and Vera Ramaciotti Research Laboratories building.  Since then, the Foundations have donated almost $56 million to biomedical research and are one of the largest contributors to the field.  The Ramaciotti Foundations continue to support biomedical research and each year make significant distributions via the Ramaciotti Awards, providing funding support to areas such as molecular biology, genetics and immunology, and assisting young investigators taking up new challenges in biomedical research.  In 2015 the Ramaciotti Foundations granted almost $1.5 million to biomedical research in Australia.
 
For more information about the Ramaciotti Foundations visit www.perpetual.com.au/ramaciotti
 
Ramaciotti Biomedical Research Award
This $1 million grant is awarded every two years to a group or individual undertaking biomedical research within universities, public hospitals, medical research institutes or other similar organisations. The award funds projects including personnel, equipment, major infrastructure improvements or new laboratories that help an existing, well-funded program of research or enable a major new program to begin. Traditionally, it funds a need that would not attract funding elsewhere. The Ramaciotti Scientific Advisory Committee helps Perpetual select the winner from nominations received.
 
About the Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research
The Ramaciotti Medal is an annual award of $50,000. The Medal honours an individual who has made an outstanding discovery (or discoveries) in clinical or experimental biomedical research that has had an important impact on biomedical science, clinical science, or the way in which healthcare is delivered. To be eligible for the Ramaciotti Medal, the greater part of the nominee's work leading to the discovery (or discoveries) must have been conducted in Australia and they must still be actively engaged in this work. The applicant must be peer nominated and the final recipient is selected based on a recommendation by the Ramaciotti Scientific Advisory Committee to Perpetual. Many past winners are highly regarded individuals in the top echelon of the biomedical research industry. High profile past winners include Professor Sam Berkovic, Professor Chris Parish, Professor TJ Martin, Professor Robert Baxter and Professor Ian Frazer. Professor David Craik was the 2014 recipient.
 
About the Ramaciotti Health Investment Grants
Ramaciotti Health Investment grants of up to $150,000 are awarded to individuals in universities, public hospitals or institutes for a contribution towards the undertaking of health or medical research with the potential path to clinical application within five years. A Health Investment grant is intended to provide enabling research support for an autonomous early career investigator who is taking, or has recently taken, a substantive position. Grants are awarded by Perpetual, Trustee of the Foundations, on the recommendation of a dedicated Scientific Advisory Committee.
 
About Perpetual Philanthropic Services
Perpetual is one of Australia’s largest managers and distributors of philanthropic funds with $2.3 billion in funds under advice (as at 30 June 2015). Perpetual is trustee for more than 1,100 charitable trusts and endowments and provides individuals and families with advice on establishing charitable foundations and structured giving programs. Perpetual also assists charities and not-for-profit organisations with investment advice and management.
 
Perpetual’s Philanthropic Services and advice are provided by Perpetual Trustee Company Limited (PTCo), ABN 42 000 001 007, AFSL 236643. This publication has been prepared by PTCo and contains information contributed by third parties. It contains general information only and is not intended to provide advice or take into account personal objectives, financial situation or needs. The information is believed to be accurate at the time of compilation and is provided by PTCo in good faith. To the extent permitted by law, no liability is accepted for any loss or damage as a result of any reliance on this information. PTCo does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of any information included in this document which was contributed by a third party.