The 2020 Ramaciotti Awards for Biomedical Research have been announced, with Professor Andrew Roberts being named the joint winner of the Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence.

Ramaciotti Award winners Andrew Roberts and John Seymour
Professor Andrew Roberts (left) and Professor John Seymour (right) were announced joint winners of the Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence as part of the Ramaciotti Awards for Biomedical Research.

WEHI researcher Professor Roberts was jointly awarded the honour with Professor John Seymour, for their roles in researching and conducting clinical trials for a breakthrough anti-cancer drug – Venetoclax – which is benefiting patients across the world who have chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL).

Both work at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and the University of Melbourne.

The Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence is an annual award of $50,000, provided to a researcher who has made an outstanding discovery in clinical or experimental biomedical research.

Notably, the professors were leaders in the clinical trials of a new class of drug that targets chemotherapy-resistant leukaemia. It has subsequently received TGA and FDA approvals for the Australian and US markets respectively and is now routinely used in patient care.

Currently, there are more than 200 studies globally to further explore the potential of the drug to treat other cancers, in combination with existing treatments.

Their research and clinical work have contributed to clinicians’ understanding of how this therapy can address difficult-to-treat blood cancers. Many thousands of patients across the world have already benefited from this ground-breaking treatment.

Of receiving the Ramaciotti Medal of Excellence, Professor Roberts said: “The most rewarding aspect of our research is seeing the patients who are benefiting from having this drug available. The support of the Ramaciotti Awards to further our research is wonderful”.

Perpetual, as trustee of the Clive and Vera Ramaciotti Foundations, this year awarded more than $1 million to nine biomedical researchers, coinciding with the Foundations’ 50th anniversary.

Commenting on the significance of the milestone, Perpetual’s Managing Partner, Community and Social Investments, Caitriona Fay, said:

“We are proud to continue the legacy of Clive and Vera Ramaciotti, 50 years after they established the Foundations to support Australia’s biomedical community. The impact of their initial investment and vision has been enduring and demonstrates that when philanthropy invests in bold ideas, we can significantly improve the wellbeing and health of millions of people worldwide.”

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