David Syme Research Prize Recipients Announced

The 2015 David Syme Research prize has been awarded jointly to Associate Professor Paul Donnelly from the School of Chemistry and the Bio21 Institute, University of Melbourne, and Dr Peter Macreadie from the Centre for Integrative Ecology, Deakin University.

The David Syme Research Prize is one of the Faculty of Science’s oldest and most prestigious awards and recognises the best original research in Australia undertaken in the previous two years in Biology, Physics, Chemistry or Geology.

Associate Professor Donnelly won for his work into new molecular agents for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. He designed the synthetic chemistry required for isotopes of copper to attach to tumour-seeking biomolecules, for the targeted detection and treatment of certain types of tumour

This work has led to a first-in-human clinical trial at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre facilitated by the commercial involvement of Clarity Pharmaceuticals.

Dr Peter Macreadie won for a new weapon in the fight against climate change. His work explores the ocean’s seagrasses, saltmarshes, and mangroves. These ‘blue carbon’ ecosystems have a remarkable capacity to capture and store carbon from the atmosphere, a process known as bio-sequestration.

Dr Macreadie’s research shows that blue carbon ecosystems have the capacity to lock carbon away in the ground for millennial time scales – a key mechanism for retiring carbon from the carbon cycle and mitigating climate change.

His studies, however, have also shown that if disturbed, blue carbon ecosystems could leak ancient carbon back into the atmosphere, and that their capacity to sequester carbon is being diminished in other ways. So he is now working towards innovative solutions for minimising blue carbon losses from the oceans and maximising carbon gains.

The David Syme Research Prize was established in 1904 through a donation to the University of Melbourne by David Syme, publisher of The Age newspaper and is awarded annually by the Faculty of Science.