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Blood cell researcher wins science academy's 2013 Gottschalk Medal
Date:1/15/2013

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researcher Dr Benjamin Kile has been awarded the Australian Academy of Science's 2013 Gottschalk Medal for a series of major discoveries that have shed new light on blood cell formation and function.

The Gottschalk Medal, named in honour of biochemist Dr Alfred Gottschalk, recognises outstanding research in the medical sciences by researchers less than 40 years of age.

Dr Kile, a laboratory head in the institute's Cancer and Haematology division, said he was honoured to be awarded the Gottschalk Medal. "I love what I do, and it has been a privilege to be able to pursue a career in medical research in Australia," Dr Kile said. "This award is recognition for work that has involved literally dozens of colleagues and collaborators, here at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, nationally and internationally".

Dr Kile's work has centred on understanding the genes that are essential for the formation and function of blood cells and blood stem cells.

One of Dr Kile's best-known discoveries was that platelets, tiny cells essential for blood clotting, are born with a short, predetermined lifespan and when their biological clock runs out, they are programmed to commit suicide. This finding solved a 100-year-old mystery about platelet biology and has implications for blood transfusions and cancer treatment.

"Our research team showed platelets have an internal programmed cell death pathway that tells them when to die, rather than dying as a result of external factors," Dr Kile said. "This raises the prospect of extending the life span of blood bank platelets by inhibiting the cell death pathway; increasing the availability of this life-saving product for cancer patients and others in danger of serious bleeding," Dr Kile said. "It also has implications for understanding conditions where platelets cause unwanted blood clots, such as heart disease and stroke, which are two of the biggest killers
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Contact: Penny Fannin
fannin@wehi.edu.au
61-393-452-345
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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