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Professor Doug Hilton wins Research Australia Award

Medical researcher and director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Professor Doug Hilton, has tonight received the 2011 Research Australia Leadership and Innovation Award.

The award recognises Professor Hilton's achievements as a medical researcher, as well as his leadership in promoting the value of health and medical research to the Australian community.

Professor Hilton's scientific career has focussed on the control of blood formation. His research at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute has revealed many molecules that are important for blood formation and signalling between cells.

In 2009 Professor Hilton became the sixth director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and head of the Department of Medical Biology at The University of Melbourne. His priorities in this role have been to continue the institute's research strengths in cancer, infectious diseases and immune disorders, and to enhance the translation of institute research into improvements in health care.

In early 2011, Professor Hilton initiated the 'Discoveries Need Dollars: Protect Medical Research' campaign in response to indications that cuts to medical research funding were planned in the 2011-2012 Federal Budget. The campaign roused strong support for maintenance of medical research funding from the community, culminating in thousands of Australians attending 'Rallies for Research' in April. Ultimately the medical research budget was maintained, which many attribute to Professor Hilton's leadership in the campaign.

Professor Moira Clay, director of academic and research services at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Perth, and a vocal participant in the Discoveries Need Dollars campaign, said Professor Hilton was instrumental to the campaign's success. "Doug developed strategies to reach many sectors of the community," she said. "The success of the campaign was that it gained support from thousands of people, not only within the medical research community, but also from patients and their families, and even the wider community. Politicians received a loud and strong message that Australians value public funding of medical research."

Professor Arthur Shulkes, the associate dean (research) of The University of Melbourne's Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, said he was delighted to learn of Research Australia's award to Professor Hilton. "Doug exemplifies what can be accomplished with true leadership and innovation ranging from his stellar research achievements to his passionate support for the Discoveries Need Dollars campaign," Professor Shulkes said.

Professor Hilton said he felt humbled to be honoured by his peers. "I would like to pay tribute to all those Australians, scientists or otherwise, who value the richness research brings to a society and who are willing to stand up to see it protected," Professor Hilton said. "I look forward to the day where Australian children with an enthusiasm for science and a curiosity about the world can choose a career in science knowing they will be respected and well remunerated."

Professor Hilton has received many awards in his career including the Australian Academy of Science's Gottschalk Medal, the Australian Institute of Political Science's 'Tall Poppy' award, the Commonwealth Health Minister's Award for Excellence in Health and Medical Research, and the Seymour & Vivian Milstein Award for Excellence in Interferon and Cytokine Research. He was named one of Australia's 'Top 10 Scientific Minds Under 45' by Cosmos magazine in 2006, and one of The Age Melbourne Magazine's 'Top 100 People' in 2009.


Contact: Penny Fannin
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

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