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QIMR Berghofer scientist honoured with award from national research funding body

QIMR Berghofer Senior Scientist Professor Don McManus has been awarded a Peter Doherty Investigator Grant Award (Leadership) from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

The award – which honours the Australian Nobel Laureate Professor Peter Doherty AC – is given to the top-ranked application in the Leadership Category of the NHMRC Investigator Grant scheme in the previous year.

Professor McManus’s study is titled ‘A worm-free world: Defeating parasitic helminths via global integrated control’. It will use an arsenal of diagnostic tools and public health measures, combined with effective surveillance measures, to try to eliminate schistosomiasis and other neglected tropical diseases from Asia and Africa and to consign these persistent diseases to history.

Professor McManus is the head of QIMR Berghofer’s Molecular Parasitology Laboratory. He has dedicated his career to the prevention and treatment of neglected tropical diseases, and particularly the parasitic diseases schistosomiasis, echinococcosis and soil-transmitted worms.

He said he was humbled and honoured to be recognised by the NHMRC, which has supported his research in Australia for more than 30 years.

“I am very grateful to the National Health and Medical Research Council for supporting this research,” Professor McManus said.

“Neglected tropical diseases are still a major public health problem across many parts of Asia and Africa, and can severely impair children’s growth and development.

“Through this project, we will continue our work to reduce infection rates of neglected tropical diseases globally.”

Professor McManus is part of a team that designed and implemented highly successful public health campaigns to reduce parasitic worm infections in rural China, Vietnam and the Philippines.

He has published 680 scientific articles in his 50-year career. A number of those studies have helped shape policy and practice and have led to improved treatment and disease control of parasitic infections in parts of Asia and Africa.

Professor McManus headed QIMR Berghofer’s Tropical Health Program for more than 20 years. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences and the UK’s Royal Society of Biology. In 2018 he was awarded the prestigious Sornchai Looareesuwan Medal for his distinguished achievements in tropical medicine research.