The University of Sydney
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Award Event - 2014

2014 SZCUF PRIZE FOR DISCOVERY IN MEDICAL RESEARCH AWARD

 

The historic MacLaurin Hall at the University of Sydney was the venue for celebratory dinner at which the 2014 awards of the Sir Zelman Cowen Universities Fund Prize were presented. The dinner was once again jointly hosted by the Fund and the Australian Friends of the Hebrew University.

The 2014 Prize was shared by two University of Sydney scientists A/Prof Anthony Gill and A/Prof Ostoja (Steve) Vucic each of whom has made a significant contribution in his field.

PROF VUCIC, DR SCHWARTZ & PROF GILL

A/Prof Gill has increased our understanding of a number of gastrointestinal and renal cancers, including the discovery of hereditary components which some of them have. This has led to the establishment of a low cost, widely available screening program which has resulted in hundreds of individuals with a hereditary cancer syndrome being diagnosed early (before they develop cancer) and at a stage where early intervention is highly likely to lead to cure and new treatment strategies.

A/Prof Vucic was recognised for his discovery of a unique mechanism underlying amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal neurodegenerative disorder that carries away one Australian every day. His pioneering research has resulted in a significant advance in understanding ALS leading to formulation of novel therapeutic approaches which are in the process of being translated into clinical trials. Professor Vucic also co-invented a much-needed diagnostic technique for ALS currently being commercialized under the trade name MAGXCITE with commercial partner Magstim. This invention could enable earlier and more definite diagnosis of ALS so that currently available neuroprotective therapies could be instituted earlier in the disease process, potentially improving survival and quality of life in this devastating disorder.

The Prize of $10,000 and a medal crafted by Melbourne sculptor, Michael Meszaros is presented in alternate years at the University of Sydney and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The award in Sydney is sponsored by The Schwartz Foundation.

Dr Jerry Schwartz from the Foundation presented the 2014 Prize to the professors.

In addition to presentations from each of the awardees, the evening included presentations from:

  • Prof Emeritus Michael Stone from the Hebrew University who provided some recent insights into the Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Prof David Celermajer an eminent Sydney cardiologist and researcher and a Trustee of the Fund who spoke about cutting edge techniques and technology which are revolutionising heart health. Prof Celermajer was also the inaugural recipient of a SZCUF Traveling Fellowship in 1992, so he was able to outline how valuable this scholarship had been to him at that early part of his career and how this personal experience helps him understand the impact of the type of support provided by the SZCUF through its various projects
  • Another landmark for the Fund was celebrated at the dinner with the introduction of the Ms Cecilia Minogue, inaugural recipient of The Leslie Rich Scholarship for Dementia Research spoke about the work for which she received her scholarship. Read more about Ms Minogue’s work here.