In the Spotlight: turning groundbreaking research into reality

The fight against COVID-19, cancer and other diseases has been boosted with four of the Institute’s scientists being awarded a prestigious national REDI Fellowship. Each scientist will receive up to $250,000 towards partnering with industry and turning groundbreaking research into reality.

“Industry partnerships are so important to be able to take our discoveries from bench to bedside. The Fellowship will help accelerate the Institute’s research to deliver the best outcomes for patients,” said QIMR Berghofer’s Director and CEO Professor Fabienne Mackay.


Professor Sudha Rao will be working with artificial intelligence (AI) business, Max Kelsen. She will develop a blood test using AI to predict a person’s risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19.

“The goal is to show how much protection an individual has against COVID-19. Those most at risk can then be quickly identified and offered targeted treatment options,” Professor Rao said.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to improve the outcomes for people with COVID-19,” she said.

Max Kelsen’s Head of Research, Dr Maciej Trzaskowski, said the collaboration with Professor Rao promises to shed light on the relationship between invader viruses and their human hosts in unprecedented ways.

“This is a pioneering example of how industry and academia can collaborate using AI to solve complex biological problems in a timeframe which would be impossible without AI,” Dr Trzaskowski said.

Cancer Immunotherapy

Associate Professor Michelle Hill will spend 12 months with precision microbiome company, Microba Life Sciences, working on:

  • The discovery and development of therapies to improve cancer immunotherapy outcomes
  • Advancing Microba’s treatment program for inflammatory bowel disease by the development of clinical biomarkers

“This Fellowship will fast track this program for improving cancer patient outcomes,” Associate Professor Hill said.

Microba Life Sciences Chief Scientific Officer Associate Professor Lutz Krause said, “We’re thrilled to have Associate Professor Michelle Hill join us with her expertise in biomarker discovery to advance Microba’s impact on improving patient outcomes in chronic diseases.”

Drug development

Associate Professor Jason Lee will join a team of investment
managers at IP Group Australia.

“I hope to increase my commercialisation knowledge and in turn provide scientific expertise to investment managers, bringing together science and industry to expedite the development of novel drugs,” Associate Professor Lee said.

Dr Siro Perez, Head of Life Sciences at IP Group Australia, says they are delighted to welcome Jason as a fellow under the REDI Fellowship Program.

“Jason’s extensive expertise within the field of cancer epigenetics and transcriptional regulation will make a valuable contribution in creating and supporting university spinout companies. We would like to thank the MTPConnect and the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) for funding and facilitating this important program.”

Blood cancer treatment

Associate Professor Kate Gartlan will work with global biotech leader, CSL, to develop new treatments to improve outcomes for blood cancer patients who require stem cell transplants.

“Blood cancer patients who undergo stem cell transplantation often suffer very serious complications. This partnership with CSL will develop our research findings into targeted therapies to reduce the risks associated with the procedure,” Associate Professor Gartlan said.