News

Israeli scientists share 2011 Sir Zelman Cowan research prize


18 March 2011

(L-R) Associate Professor Sigal Ben-Yehuda and Dr Eli Pikarsky have been recognised for their contributions to understanding human disease.
(L-R) Associate Professor Sigal Ben-Yehuda and Dr Eli Pikarsky have been recognised for their contributions to understanding human disease.

Dr Eli Pikarsky and Associate Professor Sigal Ben-Yehuda, respectively of the Hadassah Medical School and Faculty of Medicine at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, share the 2011 Sir Zelman Cowen Universities Fund Prize for Medical Research for their important contributions to our understanding of human disease.

The prize is awarded in alternate years at the University of Sydney and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Dr Pikarsky was nominated for insights, gained from his work in complex mouse models, into the development of human diseases. His work has yielded new understanding of the determinants of malignancy in testicular cancer; of the impact of inflammation on the progress of liver cancer and the regulation of liver regeneration, important in all conditions which damage liver function.

Associate Professor Ben-Yehuda was nominated for her contributions to our understanding of bacteria biology. Her discoveries, which include the demonstration of a previously unknown 'nanotube' form of communication between cells, are also fundamental for understanding the mechanisms of bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Her work is of great importance for the treatment of infections caused by growing numbers of resistant bacteria.

Prize medals, crafted by renowned Melbourne sculptor Michael Meszaros, and the cash award of $10,000 will be presented to the scientists at a ceremony to be held during the Board of Governor's Meeting at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in June 2011.

This is the first time the award has been shared between two nominees. Professor Jonathan Stone, Managing Trustee of the Sir Zelman Cowen Universities Fund, said: "Both winners have made impressive contributions to our understanding of complex and difficult diseases - cancer, and antibiotic-resistant infections. Their discoveries are impressive examples of how well-targeted research can tackle serious medical challenges."

First presented at the University of Sydney in 2006, the Sir Zelman Cowen Universities Fund Prize for Medical Research recognises discoveries by researchers under 45 years of age, emphasising contributions to the understanding or treatment of disease.

It is one of a number of fund initiatives aiming to support medical research at the University of Sydney and at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and to promote cooperative work between the two institutions.

Established in 1978 by the late John Hammond, a Sydney businessman, the fund currently supports one collaborative scientific project between the two Universities, a program of student and academic exchange, the Fund Prize for Medical Research and the SZCUF Alzheimer's Disease Research Grant.


Media enquiries: Kath Kenny, 0478 303 173, 9351 1584, kath.kenny@sydney.edu.au

Victoria Hollick, 0401 711 361, 9351 2579, victoria.hollick@sydney.edu.au