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2016 Victoria Prize for Science & Innovation

The Victoria Prize for Science and Innovation recognises the outstanding work of established Victorian scientists and the impact of their research.

Award Overview

Victoria Prize winner The Prize recognises the outstanding work of established Victorian scientists and the impact of their research.

2016 Life Sciences Recipients

Professors Jamie Rossjohn and James McCluskey 

Professors Jamie Rossjohn and James McCluskey have been awarded the 2016 Victoria Prize jointly for their substantial and sustained contributions to our understanding of the human immune system. Their research has both fundamental and clinical importance in understanding infection and immunity.

During their 15 year collaboration, Professor Rossjohn from Monash University and Professor McCluskey from The University of Melbourne, have co-published over 125 research papers, translated their research for improved health outcomes and mentored a large number of next generation researchers.

Key discoveries

Professors Rossjohn and McCluskey have made a number of key discoveries including uncovering how genetic variability between different individuals affects their immune responses to viruses and other microbes. Their groundbreaking discovery around pre-T-cell antigen receptors provides an enhanced understanding of how T cells develop in the thymus. They have provided a detailed molecular understanding of how T-cells recognise foreign tissues during transplant rejection, drug hypersensitivities and the wheat allergy that causes celiac disease. Their research has underpinned personalised genetic testing which has direct clinical significance across a range of medical conditions including avoidance of life threatening drug allergy and better matching of transplant donors and recipients.

The pair have provided novel insights into T-cell biology, specifically defining the basis of key immune recognition events by T-cells that sense peptide, lipid and other foreign molecules that trigger immunity. Their recent finding that a subset of T-cells respond to vitamin B-based precursors has shifted our understanding of the immune system by revealing an entirely new class of microbial targets in immunity.

Groundbreaking work

This groundbreaking work may lead to new diagnostics and potential therapeutics to combat disorders of the bowel and other mucosal-based disease.

Both are Fellows of the Australian Academy of Science and have received numerous prizes, awards and international invitations for their long list of achievements, including the 2011 Roche Organ Transplantation Research Foundation Award, the 2013 Eureka Prize for Scientific Research jointly with Lars Kjer-Nielsen and the 2015 GSK Award for Research Excellence.

2016 Physical Sciences Recipients

Professor Min Gu

Professor Min Gu is an internationally renowned physicist and expert in three-dimensional optical imaging theory. He is a world leading authority in the fields of nanophotonics, which includes nanofabrication, biophotonics, optical data storage and solar cells.

His groundbreaking research into super-resolution optical storage technology broke the Abbe’s diffraction limit barrier, a fundamental law in optical imaging discovered by German physicist Ernest Abbe in 1873. Professor Gu’s work has enabled the storage of huge amounts of optical data at a very low rate of energy consumption. His findings have meant data that would ordinarily fill a football field can now be stored onto a single DVD sized disc.

Revolutionary technology

Professor Gu’s revolutionary solar cell technology is set to reduce the greenhouse effect because it reduces energy consumption by 1000 times. His breakthrough makes building integratable solar cells cheaper and therefore more viable for the building sector. It could even mean that future skyscrapers will be self-powered using purely green solar energy.

Professor Gu has won external funding totalling more than A$100 million from national and international science foundations, governments and industries.

He is an elected fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, the Australian Institute of Physics, the Optical Society of America, the International Society for Optical Engineering and the Institute of Physics (UK).

Professor Gu was a member of the Prime Minister’s 2014 Trade Delegation (Education) to China. He is a Laureate Fellow of the Australian Research Council (ARC), a University Distinguished Professor and former Director of the Centre of Micro-Photonics at Swinburne University of Technology. In 2015, Professor Gu was appointed Distinguished Professor and Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research Innovation and Technology at RMIT University.

Watch Professor Rossjohn and Professor McCluskey's story's 

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