Griffith University’s Director and Head of Research for the Institute for Glycomics Professor Mark von Itzstein AO has been honoured with the Gold Coast Citizen of the Year award at the city’s 2020 Australia Day awards.
The institute celebrates its 20-year anniversary this year, a fact which humbles Professor von Itzstein AO as much as news of the award.
“I am honoured to accept the award on behalf of all members of the Institute, as it is the team that has driven the success of our translational research in fighting diseases of global impact,” he said.
“The Gold Coast community is our partner and we have the responsibility of making a difference to health outcomes for them.
“I have been overwhelmed by the extent of the community’s support and it makes a real difference to our capacity to undertake world-leading research.
“I would also like to gratefully acknowledge Griffith University for the amazing investment and support that has been provided to the Institute.
“The vision that we started it with 20 years ago has not changed, and as a unique leading medical research institute in the country, we strive to discover solutions to difficult diseases.”
Professor von Itzstein AO lead the research team that discovered the world’s first drug for Influenza, Relenza. He was made an Officer of the Order of Australia last year.
Last December he also announced a multi-million dollar partnership with Hong Kong listed China Grand Pharma’s newly established Australian company Grand Medical Ltd to develop a new drug for Human Parainfluenza Virus (hPIv).
Respiratory tract infections remain the deadliest communicable diseases worldwide, causing more than 3.2 million deaths in 2015 alone.
Antiviral drugs that target these viruses are drastically underrepresented in the pharmaceutical market and there is currently no therapeutic available to specifically treat hPIV infection.
The exclusive licence and co-development agreement with China Grand Pharma will enable the development and commercialisation of a human parainfluenza drug candidate globally.
Professor von Itzstein AO said the institute’s achievements over the last 20 years were also made possible by generous financial contributions from the Queensland State government and City of Gold Coast.