News

Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence awarded to breast cancer researchers

22 November 2016
Professor Geoff Lindeman and Professor Jane Visvader  at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
Breast cancer researchers Professor Geoff Lindeman and Professor Jane Visvader, who jointly lead the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute’s ACRF Stem Cells and Cancer Division, have been awarded the 2016 Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research.

Professor Lindeman and Professor Visvader have been selected for their contribution to cancer research and a series of landmark findings that have provided a new framework for understanding how breast cancers arise and how they could be prevented and treated.

Over the past decade, the researchers and their teams have identified the cells responsible for giving rise to normal breast tissue, making key discoveries in the regulation of normal breast growth and how errors within this process can lead to breast cancer.

Most recently, they identified the culprit cells that give rise to breast cancer in women who carry a faulty BRCA1 gene, and found that an existing medication for osteoporosis could provide a non-surgical option for breast cancer prevention in these women.

Mr Gary Jeffs from Perpetual, trustee of the Clive and Vera Ramaciotti Foundations, made the official award announcement during a ceremony at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute today. 

Professor Visvader said she was honoured to receive the prestigious award.

“This medal is testament to more than 15 years of continuous work – not just by Geoff and myself, but also our very talented teams of students, postdoctoral students, research assistants and our collaborators, who have been instrumental to the discoveries,” Professor Visvader said.

Professor Lindeman said the support of the Ramaciotti Foundations would advance efforts to translate discoveries from the laboratory into a clinical setting.

“With past Ramaciotti winners having been responsible for important contributions to the health of our communities, we feel deeply humbled and a sense of responsibility.

“Jane and I will continue to work with our amazing teams to progress fundamental discoveries from the bench to the bedside,” Professor Lindeman said.

Perpetual’s national manager of Philanthropy and Non-Profit Services Caitriona Fay said the Ramaciotti Foundations were one of the largest private contributors to biomedical research in Australia.

“The Ramaciotti Foundations have provided essential support to some of Australia’s most remarkable scientists since 1970. Vera Ramaciotti’s vision and the legacy she has created is a leading example of the powerful way philanthropy can help the health of millions of people,” she said.

The Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research is an annual award of $50,000 for outstanding scientific discoveries in clinical or experimental biomedical research.

Past Ramaciotti Medal winners from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute include Institute director Professor Doug Hilton.

Professor Visvader is an Affiliate Member of the Stem Cells Australia initiative.