Excellence recognised!

Excellence recognised!

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  • 22 March 2024
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Professor Lara Malins, a chief investigator at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Innovations in Peptide and Protein Science (CIPPS), and the ANU Research School of Chemistry, has been awarded a prestigious $8 million fellowship to help tackle some of the globe’s most pressing health challenges. 

Her goal is to fine-tune naturally occurring chemical compounds and re-deploy them as powerful new therapies for human illnesses.  

Alongside her ANU team, Professor Malins hopes to unleash the therapeutic capacity of peptides, or short chains of amino-acids, a “largely untapped reservoir” when it comes to medicinal chemistry. 

“As structural relatives of proteins, peptides are biological powerhouses, but while our understanding of them is growing, clinical progression has been limited due to the challenges in synthesising and optimising them in the lab,” Professor Malins said. 

“The specific compounds we’ll be looking at have considerable potential as next-generation medicines — including peptide-based cancer therapies. This investment from the Snow Medical Research Foundation will help fuel the drug discovery pipeline and ultimately, enhance our ability to treat human disease.”  

Professor Malins will also use her fellowship to continue her work on new antimalarials and antibiotics. 

“Nearly 100 years after the discovery of penicillin, we’re on the brink of a ‘post-antibiotic’ era, with rising levels of bacteria resistant to even our last resort antibiotics,” she said. 

“Studies suggest that global antimicrobial resistance will lead to approximately 10 million deaths and an economic cost of $US100 trillion per year by 2050. To avoid repeating the cycle of antibiotic development and resistance, we need to look at new avenues.”  

Chair of Snow Medical, Tom Snow, added: “We are delighted to support Lara’s important work. She is a true example of Snow Medical’s aim to support researchers who will shape the next generation of health and medical innovation.”  

“In Lara’s case, she will focus on harnessing the power of peptides to develop new therapies, ultimately enhancing our ability to treat human disease. 

“We’re also delighted to see a chemist awarded a Snow Fellowship for the first time. The proposed work of Lara and her team will have cross-cutting impacts in chemistry, biology and medicine.” 

About Snow Medical Research Foundation

The Snow Medical Research Foundation (Snow Medical) is at the forefront of philanthropic efforts to advance biomedical research in Australia.

With a commitment now totalling $224 million, Snow Medical supports the development of outstanding biomedical research leaders and their teams, driving innovation and excellence in healthcare solutions for the future. 

This article was first published by ANU Reporter.

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