News / 3 November 2022

EMBL Australia group leader Associate Professor Robert Weatheritt has been awarded a coveted Viertel Senior Medical Research Fellowship.

A/Prof Weatheritt, based at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, was one of three scientists selected to receive $1.375 million over five years from the Sylvia and Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation to support their research.

The funds will support his vital work in cancer research – finding new pathways to boost chemotherapy success.

A/Prof Weatheritt identified a new biological pathway implicated in chemotherapy resistance, a P-body formation.

‘P-bodies’ – or processing bodies – are granules of mRNAs and proteins found in the cell that help prevent tumour cells from converting to cancer stem cells, which then develop into pro-metastatic and chemotherapy-resistant cancer stem cells.

By working out what drug types and combinations can support P-bodies to do their work, A/Prof Weatheritt aims to boost the effectiveness of other cancer treatments.

A/Prof Weatheritt is the fourth EMBL Australia group leader to receive the fellowship: Associate Professor Chen Davidovich, based at the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, was awarded the coveted fellowship in 2020; Associate Professor Mikaël Martino, based at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI), was awarded the fellowship in 2021; and Dr Nicolas Plachta – then an EMBL Australia group leader at ARMI, was awarded the fellowship in 2014.

The 2022 Viertel Senior Medical Research Fellows are:

  • Dr Jaclyn Pearson, Hudson Institute of Medical Research, Monash University
  • A/Professor Robert Weatheritt, Garvan Institute of Medical Research
  • Dr Jennifer Zenker, Monash University (Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute)

Read more about the fellowship here.

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