Director’s message

Professor Elizabeth Hartland
Director and CEO

Welcome to the summer edition of Hudson News. It is my great pleasure and honour to write to you in my new role as the Director and CEO of Hudson Institute of Medical Research.

Since arriving in August, I have been getting to know more than 300 Hudson Institute scientists and postgraduate students, and understanding how their research fits into our broader mission of improving human health across the entire lifespan.

I am genuinely excited about the groundbreaking work being undertaken here and the possibilities that lie ahead. I hope you will experience the same optimism when you read about our research discoveries in this edition.

For me, the opportunity to join Australia’s leading scientists in innate immunity research at Hudson Institute was incredibly appealing. My own research focuses on how bacteria cause disease and in particular how these tiny organisms use biochemical tricks to shut down our immune response. This knowledge will help in the design of new vaccines and antimicrobial therapies.

Another key attraction for me in joining Hudson Institute was the application of fundamental laboratory science to clinical and translational outcomes. This crossover is possible through our partnerships with Monash Health (Victoria’s largest health service) and Monash University (Australia’s largest university), enabling our scientists to directly improve the lives of patients through medical research.

A fantastic example of this relationship is a new pancreatic cancer study and clinical trial involving Hudson Institute’s Professor Brendan Jenkins and his PhD student, Mr William Berry, in collaboration with Dr Daniel Croagh, a Monash Health hepatobiliary surgeon and Monash University lecturer.

By optimising a technique to screen tumour samples, and identifying a new drug that could be used to treat up to 10 per cent of all pancreatic cancer patients, the team has now commenced a new trial that is aiming to lift survival rates.

Giving back to our community by sharing knowledge and scientific discoveries with the general public is also a key part of our role as a medical research institute. In early October, more than 100 women with endometriosis, their friends, partners and family members attended our free public forum titled ‘Endometriosis – Moving towards a pain-free future’ at the Melbourne Museum Theatre.

Our panel of scientists, clinicians and experts shed light on endometriosis, a condition affecting an estimated 1 in 10 women, by explaining how medical research can help.

Discoveries such as Professor Caroline Gargett’s identification of stem cell markers is one such breakthrough for women’s health that could lead to early diagnosis and non-invasive treatments for endometriosis.

Finally, I wish to thank Professor Bryan Williams for his stewardship of Hudson Institute over the past four years and also for eight years prior to the merger as Director of Monash Institute of Medical Research. Professor Williams has played a crucial role in expanding our influence on the world stage, and guiding the Institute through a merger and an uncertain funding environment.

Professor Williams will continue to lead his own research program in our Centre for Cancer Research, and leaves the Institute in a strong position primed for future growth.

I hope that you enjoy reading about the great science being performed at Hudson Institute. I wish you and your families a safe, relaxing and joyful holiday season.