Scientist honoured with national award

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 submission ‘A worm-free world: Defeating parasitic helminths via global integrated control’ describes using 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.

Schistosomiasis is a disease caused by infection with freshwater parasitic worms in certain tropical and subtropical countries. The World Health Organisation estimates that over 236 million people required preventative treatment for schistosomiasis in 2019.

Professor McManus is head of QIMR Berghofer’s Molecular Parasitology Laboratory and has dedicated his career to the prevention and treatment of neglected tropical diseases. This has included schistosomiasis, and other parasitic diseases like 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 NHMRC 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.

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