A long-serving QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute scientist is among the winners at the prestigious Australian Museum Eureka Prizes for Excellence in Science.
Professor Brian Kay, from the Mosquito Control Laboratory, was one of the Eliminate Dengue Team awarded the Infectious Diseases Research Eureka for their “game changing” breakthrough in insect-borne disease control.
The team successfully infected dengue-carrying mosquitoes with a naturally occurring bacterium – Wolbachia – which inhibits their ability to spread the disease.
The Eliminate Dengue team was led by Professor Scott O’Neill from Monash University, and also included Professor Ary Hoffmann from the University of Melbourne, Professor Scott Ritchie from James Cook University, Dr Elizabeth McGraw from Monash and Dr Luciano Moreira from the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Brazil.
QIMR Berghofer Deputy Director Professor Greg Anderson said the award was further recognition of Brian Kay’s work in mosquito control over many years.
“The work of his team has had a major impact on the health of people both in Australia and Southeast Asia. He should be very proud of his contribution to the Wolbachia studies led by Professor O’Neill.”
Professor Kay has conducted research into insect-borne diseases for 51 years. He will retire from QIMR Berghofer at the end of this year.
“This work is a potential game-changer in the battle against dengue and other insect-borne diseases,” the Director of the Australian Museum, Frank Howarth said.
“Professor O’Neill’s team has found a way to stop the spread of a problem that affects millions of people and farm animals worldwide—and reduce our dependence on insecticides.”
The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes reward excellence in the fields of research and innovation, leadership and commercialisation, science journalism and communication, and school science. This year the 17 sponsored prizes include awards for agriculture, environmental research and innovative use of technology.
The full list of winners can be found at www.australianmuseum.net.au/2013-winners-eureka