Griffith researchers acknowledged for contributions to the advancement of microbiology

Professor Michael Jennings
Professor Michael Jennings

Two researchers from Griffith’s Institute for Glycomics have been awarded Fellowships with the American Academy of Microbiology for their contributions to the scientific field.

Professor Michael Jennings and Professor Suresh Mahalingam both have outstanding records of scientific achievement and exceptional contributions to the advancement of microbiology through a peer-review process.

Recently Professor Jennings made a scientific discovery that will change the way scientists explore vaccine development by showing an entirely new way that cells and macromolecules interact together.

These findings were published in the prestigious American journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. The study describes novel interactions between glycans and glycans — the complex sugar structures on cells that are the targets for infection by many pathogens.

Professor Jennings is now continuing this research with a $1 million grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council to include a range of infectious diseases to drive new approaches to development of drugs and vaccines.

“It is very pleasing to be honoured by my peers in this way and to have an opportunity to contribute to the microbiology community in this new capacity”

Professor Suresh Mahalingam
Professor Suresh Mahalingam

Professor Suresh Mahalingam was recently awarded more than $800,000 in funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council to explore the pathobiology of alphavirus infections.

His main research focus has been to understand the mechanisms of inflammatory disease triggered by viral infections. He is particularly interest in mechanistic studies of emerging mosquito-borne viruses such as Chikungunya virus, Dengue virus, Ross River virus and Zika virus.

“I feel very honoured that my body of research work has been recognised by my peers,” he said.

“The fellowship award means my work is seen as making an important contribution to the field of virology and this is a great motivator for us to continue to do our best science and publish in high quality journals.

“We are particularly excited about the applied component of our current research. For example, we are well advanced in pre-clinical studies on a vaccine for chikungunya virus, which is urgently required for control of this emerging human pathogen.

“We have also identified several drugs that are currently being used for treatment of other diseases that are also effective in treating viral inflammatory disease.

“More recently, we have commenced work on Zika virus. Our research skills in virology put us in a very strong position to make major research inroads with this newly emerging and very important virus.”

Institute for Glycomics Director Professor Mark von Itzstein said these fellowships highlights the calibre of researchers they have working at the Institute and cements its reputation as a leading biomedical research institute.

“Our research teams are made up of the best scientists from across the world, which allows us to undertake cutting-edge research initiatives to make exciting advances towards fighting diseases of global impact,” he said.