Leading the charge in malaria: Professor Brendan Crabb AC wins GSK Award for Research Excellence

To combat malaria – one of the leading causes of death and disease burden globally – advancing and

Professor Brendan Crabb AC, Director and CEO of Burnet Institute, has received the 2019 GSK Award for Research Excellence for his research focused on finding the next generation of treatments and vaccines for this devastating disease.

By manipulating the malaria parasite’s DNA using a tool called ‘transfection’, Professor Crabb’s team is working to discover which mutations are responsible for drug resistance and what parts can be targeted by new medicines and vaccines.

Malaria is one of the most important health problems humans have ever faced. It was responsible for over 430, 000 deaths in 20171 and 1,200 children die of the disease every day2.

Professor Crabb said that winning the GSK Award for Research Excellence highlights the power of local collaboration and brings greater awareness to the importance of combatting malaria.

“While malaria most significantly impacts the world’s poorest countries near the equator, this has a flow-on effect for Australia. Countries like Papua New Guinea and Indonesia are our neighbours, trading partners and popular travel destinations. We need to work collaboratively to help these countries deal with the burden of malaria. It will improve their health and drive greater security and prosperity for all,” said Professor Crabb. 

“There is probably no more impactful contribution to human development than ridding the world of malaria.” – Professor Brendan Crabb AC

Dr Andrew Weekes, Medical Director, GSK Australia said GSK is proud to be supporting Australian researchers with this award, now in its 39th year.

“The work of Professor Crabb is testament to the impact home-grown research and innovation can have on a global scale. We are honoured to recognise research enabling further discoveries and better outcomes for people suffering from global health inequities,” said Dr Weekes.

References

  1. Burnet Institute 2019, Eliminate Malaria. Available at https://burnet.edu.au/programs/32_eliminate_malaria (Accessed October 2019)
  2. UNICEF 2025, Fact sheet Malaria kills 1,200 children a day: UNICEF. Available      at https://www.unicef.org/media/media_81674.html (Accessed October 2019)

 

The GSK Award for Research Excellence is one of the most prestigious awards available to the Australian medical research community. It has been awarded since 1980 to recognise outstanding achievements in medical research and facilitates career development with potential importance to human health and Australian research.

The Award, which comes with an $80,000 grant, was first presented as the Wellcome Australia Medal and then as the Glaxo-Wellcome Medal before receiving its current name.

 

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