2010 veski innovation fellows announced

26 May
veski chairman Professor Snow Barlow, Mr Tim Sonnreich, Ms Julia Page, Mr Gordon Ramsay, Sir Gustav Nossall AC and Dr Mark Shackleton
veski chairman Professor Snow Barlow, Mr Tim Sonnreich, Ms Julia Page, Mr Gordon Ramsay, Sir Gustav Nossall AC and Dr Mark Shackleton

Emeritus Professor Sir Gustav Nossal announced the 2010 veski innovation fellows before a crowd of more than 70 guests at Gordon Ramsay’s acclaimed new restaurant Maze, located within Crown Metropol.

The announcement of the 2010 veski innovation fellows officially marked the first ever luncheon at the highly anticipated restaurant, and the experience did not disappoint. Guests enjoyed an assortment of intricate delicacies, ranging from southern rock lobster accompanied with a veloute of Jerusalem artichoke; marinated beetroot with goat’s curd; pan-roasted barramundi; and an exotic fruit vacherin, all masterfully created under the watchful eye of head chef, Mr Josh Emmett, a world renowned chef who has worked under Ramsay for the past ten years.

And if the smooth surroundings, fine food and great company weren’t enough, it was certainly topped off with the unprecedented appearance of the man behind the name, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. Although he did not directly address the crowd, his presence in itself was ‘icing on the cake.’

Despite the glamorous aura, the main focus of the day was of course to recognise two exceptional researchers and innovators who have dedicated their lives to science and the quest to employ it for the betterment of society.

This year’s recipients - Dr Mark Shackleton and Professor Edwin vanLeeuwen - were officially acknowledged for their innovation and ground-breaking research into melanoma skin cancer therapies and geothermal clean energy alternatives respectively.

Mark Shackleton with Sir Gustav NossalDr Shackleton, an internationally distinguished oncologist, spent the last four years based at the University of Michigan where he developed a highly efficient method of growing human melanoma tumours in mice that display similar progression of the disease as seen in humans.

Dr Shackleton intends to establish his cutting edge technology into cancer research at the Melanoma Research Laboratory at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, where it is hoped he will identify some of the fundamental chanisms and key aspects of melanoma cell behaviour that cause the disease to progress in sufferers. Furthermore, he hopes to use models to predict melanoma behaviour with the hope of optimizing promising new treatments.

"I have been fortunate enough to have made some exciting breakthroughs in the area of melanoma biology during my work overseas in the US...my role as a doctor at Peter Mac ensures that I am constantly reminded of the scientific questions that aremost relevant to patients,” he said.

“It has been wonderful to come back to my home town. This was always the place that I’d hoped to be able to continue my career. But it was also important to me that I was able to continue to do the work that I wanted to do. The position I have returned to at Peter Mac, along with the support of the veski innovation fellowship, has really enabled me to do that,” he said.

Director of Research at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Professor Joe Trapani, believes the veski fellowship has allowed Victoria to capture one of the brightest clinicians and researchers which is important to the future of cancer research in Australia. Dr Shackleton will receive the Fellowship over three years to fund his research into melanoma skin cancer progression and new patient therapies.

In a vastly different yet equally exciting field of scientific innovation, Professor Edwin van Leeuwen’s project will investigate ‘hot dry rocks’ or geothermal energy as a future energy source for Victoria. Geothermal base-load power options for Victoria will have minimal environmental footprint, provide widespread applicability and no significant waste stream and looks set to become a potential exciting future energy resource. However the technology can also prove difficult, particularly because heat reservoirs are targeted at such great depths below the earth’s surface.

With global warming an imminent threat to the delicate Australian environment, Professor van Leeuwen’s work is sure to be closely followed and eagerly anticipated in a time where ‘clean’ energy sources are becoming increasingly crucial in a warming world.

"We are trying to de-risk geothermal energy to the point where companies that are in the energy business would consider investing capital to drill into prospective geological areas. I think we just need to bite the bullet in drilling several wells either in the Latrobe Valley, in the Otways or in North West Victoria, where we think there are suitable geology and heat sources.”

Edwin van Leeuwen with Sir Gustav NossalThe veski innovation fellowship will address all critical areas required to realise the potential of geothermal systems, including the assembling and adaption of technologies from a range of industries and consolidating the skills base within the science, engineering and financial community. Professor van Leeuwen has spent the past 24 years working as a global researcher and technology manager for BHP Billiton where he led a campaign to develop innovative technologies for the mining and petroleum industries.

He has spent the last three years in Singapore managing BHP Billiton’s Global Technology Operations in Russia, China and India. Professor van Leeuwen was awarded the veski innovation fellowship over a two year period which will see drilling into the earth’s crust and tapping into ‘hot rocks’ to try to establish an alternative power source.

veski chairman, Professor Snow Barlow says veski is delighted to be able to assist in bringing both scientists with such enormous international acclaim back to Melbourne.

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