The Australian Society for Biophysics has honoured Professor Ray Norton from WEHI's Structural Biology Division with the prestigious Bob Robertson Award.
Conferred annually in Australasia, the award recognises outstanding research contributions to the field of biophysics. Professor Norton's groundbreaking research has focused on defining the three-dimensional structures of potential drug targets, using the advanced technique of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy.
Currently, he has a particular interest in the structure and function of small protein toxins that block the activity of ion channels. These toxins, isolated from marine cone snails and sea anemones, have potential therapeutic applications in the treatment of chronic pain and of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
Presently, chronic pain is often managed by opiate drugs, which have an unfortunate side effect of creating physical dependence. New non-opiate pain relief drugs based on marine cone snail toxins may be able to break the link with such long-term dependence.
The sea anemone, from which an effective immunosuppressant has been obtained, could assist in the treatment of multiple sclerosis one key characteristic of this disease being the errant immune system's destruction of the myelin sheath that protects nerve channels.
In addition to honouring his pioneering research, the Bob Robertson Award acknowledges Professor Norton's services to his scientific discipline, including his past Vice-Presidency and Presidency of the Australian Society for Biophysics, his role in establishing the Asian Biophysics Association, and his membership of a committee that made a successful bid to host the Congress of the IUPAB (the International Union for Pure and Applied Biophysics) in Australia in 2014.
|Contact: Brad Allan|