The head of QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute’s Cell and Molecular Biology Department, Professor Grant Ramm, has been awarded the Gastroenterological Society of Australia’s (GESA) Distinguished Research Prize for 2020.
Professor Ramm is a Senior Principal Research Fellow at the Institute and leads its Hepatic Fibrosis Group.
The Gastroenterological Society of Australia said Professor Ramm will be presented with GESA’s Distinguished Research Prize at its Australian Gastroenterology Week 2020 Virtual conference this month.
“This award acknowledges Professor Ramm’s immense research contribution to the field of hepatic stellate cell biology and the mechanisms of hepatic fibrogenesis in chronic liver disease combined with his mentorship of fellow researchers,” the society said.
Professor Ramm is one of only three scientists to receive the recognition in the 32 year history of the award and only the third recipient from Queensland.
“I am honoured to be recognised by my peers for my work on hepatic fibrosis (scarring of the liver) in chronic liver disease,” Professor Ramm said.
“Progressing our understanding of the cell biology and mechanisms of liver disease is vital for identifying and developing better therapeutics in the future to treat both inherited and acquired liver disease.”
QIMR Berghofer’s Director and CEO, Professor Fabienne Mackay, congratulated Professor Ramm on the Prize.
“Grant is a worthy recipient of GESA’s Distinguished Research Prize, as he has dedicated most of his scientific career to improving our understanding of chronic liver disease,” Professor Mackay said.
“He was the first person to identify that hepatic stellate cells cause excess collagen deposits, which lead to liver scarring in a host of conditions including haemochromatosis, hepatocellular carcinoma, and in children with either cystic fibrosis or biliary atresia.
“His work has significantly advanced research in the fields of both haemochromatosis and CF.
“His group at QIMR Berghofer continues to investigate the mechanisms responsible for hepatic fibrogenesis, so that better biomarkers can be found to allow for non-invasive early detection and staging of liver disease severity, and better treatments developed for inflammation and fibrosis associated with the chronic stage of the disease.”
Chronic liver disease is a major global health and economic burden with deaths due to cirrhosis (advanced liver scarring) continuing to increase.
World-wide, liver disease mortality has increased 4-fold since 1970. It is estimated more than 2 million people die from chronic liver disease each year and there are 844 million people living with the condition.
Liver disease was the 11th leading cause of premature death in Australia in 2010–2012 according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
In 2012 the economic burden of liver disease in Australia was estimated to be more than $50 billion.
In Australia alone cirrhosis-related hospitalisations increased by 30 per cent from 2008 to 2016.