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Dr. Andrew Hill, World-Class Biochemist & President of International Society for Extracellular Vesicles (ISEV) Named Winner of Prestigious 2019 Beckman Coulter Discovery Science Award

On April 2, 2019, the Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) announced that the Beckman Coulter Discovery Science Award has been awarded to Andrew Hill, PhD, Director of Australia's La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science(LIMS); Head of the Department of Biochemistry and Genetics, LIMS; Director of the La Trobe’s University-Wide Research Focus Area “Understanding Disease;” and President of the International Society for Extracellular Vesicles (ISEV). This award is presented annually to an ASBMB member for distinguished contributions to the field of biochemistry and molecular biology. Recipients have demonstrated involvement in research innovation, technology transfer, and communication. The Award is intended as a Travelling Lectureship to enable the awardee to present his/her work at a number of centers within Australia and New Zealand. The awardee will also present a Symposium talk at the ASBMB 2019 annual conference October 1-3 in Perth, Western Australia (https://asbmb2019.com.au/). Nominees must have been members of the Society for at least two years before the year in which the Award nomination is to be considered. The contribution to travel expenses is provided through the generosity of Beckman Coulter. Award winner Dr. Hill briefly described his distinguished career thus far as follows. “I gained my BSc(Hons) in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, where my Honors project involved using DNA fingerprinting on sheep to identify potential disease biomarkers. “In 1992, I travelled to the UK in search of a PhD position and began working on prion diseases, firstly as a research assistant and subsequently studying for a PhD in Professor John Collinge’s group at Imperial College. The epidemic of BSE (‘mad-cow’ disease) was at its peak and the risks of this disease to human health were a major concern. During this time, I researched the molecular properties of human and animal prion strains, and identified the link between BSE and a new form of prion disease in humans – variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) that emerged in 1996. I came to Australia in 2000 as a Wellcome Trust Travelling Prize Research Fellow in Professor Colin Masters’ laboratory (University of Melbourne), where I expanded my research interests into other neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. I returned to the UK for a short period as a Wellcome Senior Research Fellow in the MRC Prion Unit before coming back to the University of Melbourne to establish my own laboratory within the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology as an NHMRC RD Wright Fellow in 2003. My lab was one of the first to move into the Bio21 Institute when it opened in 2005. During my time at Bio21, I held an NHMRC CDF (Level 2), an NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship and an ARC Future Fellowship (Level 3).”

“In 2015, I moved my laboratory to the La Trobe Institute of Molecular Sciences (LIMS) at La Trobe University, where I was appointed as Head of the Department of Biochemistry and Genetics and Director of one of five university-wide Research Focus Areas (RFA Understanding Disease).”

“In 2017, I was appointed Director of LIMS and I also established the La Trobe Research Centre for the Study of Extracellular Vesicles (RCEV) as the inaugural Director.”

“I have been the recipient of several awards and prizes including a Victorian Young Tall Poppy Award in 2006, the ASBMB Applied Biosystems Edman Award in 2005 and the ASBMB Merck Research Excellence Medal in 2010.”

“In 2012, I became an elected member of the executive board of the newly formed International Society for Extracellular Vesicles (ISEV) and am currently serving my second term as President of this rapidly growing society.”

“My research team uses in vitro and in vivo models to look at how abnormally folded proteins associated with neurodegenerative diseases travel from cell to cell and the factors that affect prion infection. The lab has a major interest in the role that extracellular vesicles play in this process and also using these particles for identifying disease biomarkers.”

The ISEV is holding its 2019 annual meeting April 24-28 in Kyoto, Japan (https://www.isev.org/page/ISEV2019).

[Editor’s Note: I had the distinct honor and pleasure of meeting and working briefly on daily communications with Dr. Hill during the ISEV international Conference in Boston, at the very same time, in April 2013, that the Boston Marathon bombing occurred. Working with the incredibly positive, enthusiastic, and hugely knowledgeable Dr. Hill was a fantastic and unforgettable experience. In more recent years, I have had the pleasure of covering a number of ISEV annual meetings and gotten to learn much more about this remarkable scientist and, if possible, even finer human being. I am so happy to learn that Dr. Hll has been recognized with this wonderful and richly deserved award. – Mike O’Neill, MA, Editor & Publisher, BioQuick News.]

[ASBMB 2019 Awards] [Dr. Hill biography] [ASBMB Annual Conference (Perth, Western Australia] [ISEV 2019 Annual Conference (Kyoto, Japan)]