26 May 2020
News Category: 
Patient and health stories

Professor Andrew Roberts, Clinical Haematologist and BMT Physician at the Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) and cancer researcher at the Walter and Eliza Hall institute for Medical Research (WEHI) has been elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (AAS).

His ground-breaking research contributed to scientific knowledge on how cancer cells stay alive, which has been leveraged to develop a novel anti-cancer drug for treating blood cancer patients

The drug is approved in Australia and internationally for treating some types of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), the most common leukaemia diagnosed in Australia. It is the first of an entirely new class of medicines to become routinely available for clinical use.

Professor Roberts is joint leader of WEHI's Cancer Research and Treatments theme.

He is one of 24 scientists elected a Fellow of the Academy in 2020.

Professor Roberts and his colleagues from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute were awarded the 2019 Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation for their roles in the discovery and development of the anti-cancer drug. Professor Roberts’ contributions included leading the first-in-human trial of the drug, which started in Melbourne, and subsequent combination trials of the drug.

“This really was a triumph of basic science and translational innovation, enabling the generation and rapid regulatory approval of a product that is significantly beneficial for many people,” Professor Roberts said.

He credited his experience as a young doctor caring for blood cancer patients as the inspiration for his as a clinician-scientist.

Australian Academy of Science President, Professor John Shine AC, congratulated the new Fellows for making significant and lasting impacts in their scientific disciplines.

“These scientists were elected by their Academy peers following a rigorous evaluation process,” said Professor Shine.

Professor Roberts is Metcalf Chair of Leukaemia Research, a joint appointment between the University of Melbourne, WEHI and RMH, and Haematology Lead for Research and Education at the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre.