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QIMR Berghofer immunologist takes out prestigious gong

QIMR Berghofer’s world-leading immunologist, Professor Rajiv Khanna AO, has been named the 2018 Professional of the Year at the India Australia Business Community Awards.

The award recognises the outstanding achievements of a business leader, professional or researcher over the age of 35, who has built a successful career.

Professor Khanna has developed four world-first immunotherapy treatments that are currently in clinical trials for brain cancer, throat cancer, multiple sclerosis and viral complications caused by organ transplants.

Professor Khanna, who is the Coordinator of the Centre for Immunotherapy and Vaccine Development at QIMR Berghofer, said he was honoured to receive the award.

“I am truly humbled to have been recognised with this award. It’s a recognition not just of my work, but also of my staff and my research collaborators,” he said.

“These new immunotherapies have been decades in the making and we are so pleased that we are seeing positive early results in our clinical trials.

“While great advances have been made in medical research in recent decades, brain and throat cancers still claim far too many lives. I hope that we will be able to change that in the next decade.”

Professor Khanna’s research has been the subject of a licensing agreement with US biopharmaceutical company Atara Biotherapeutics, Inc., helping to cement Queensland’s reputation as an internationally significant centre for biotechnology and innovation.

He also helped to establish QIMR Berghofer’s cell manufacturing facility, Q-Gen Cell Therapeutics, which is now producing cellular immunotherapies for clinical trials worldwide.

After completing his doctoral studies in India, Professor Khanna moved to Australia in 1990 and has spent most of the last 28 years at QIMR Berghofer.

He has helped to foster stronger relations between Australia and India as a member of the Executive of the Queensland Branch of Australia India Business Council between 2015 and 2017 and through his involvement in social and cultural activities.

In 2017, Professor Khanna was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished services to medicine in the field of immunology.