Professor Mark Dawson has received the Australian Academy of Science’s prestigious Jacques Miller Medal recognising his pioneering research into the epigenetic drivers of cancer.

The medal also recognises Professor Dawson’s dual contributions as a researcher and a clinician treating patients with blood cancer at Peter Mac.

“I think it’s a fascinating career, it is a difficult career because you are working at the same level in two different disciplines,” Professor Dawson says in his acceptance video released by the Academy (watch it below).

“Yet I hope, in some way, recognition such as this helps to inspire the next generation of clinician scientists.”

Epigenetics is the study of the processes that regulate access to a cell’s DNA template for gene expression, DNA repair and DNA replication.

This underpins normal bodily development, tissue regeneration and ageing and when these processes are corrupted by DNA mutations, cancer can result.

Work by Professor Dawson has led to discovery of several novel epigenetic drugs now in clinical trials as a potential new class of cancer treatment.

“Professor Dawson is a scientific trailblazer who tackles the most difficult biological questions using a mix of skill, ingenuity and expertise that is rarely attained,” says Peter Mac's Executive Director Cancer Research Professor Ricky Johnstone.

“He is terrific colleague and a wonderful ambassador for Australian health and medical research, and we are so proud that he is part of the Peter Mac community.”

The Jacques Miller Medal is named after Australian immunology pioneer Professor Jacques Miller who discovered the function of the thymus, and identified the two major subsets of lymphocytes and their functions.

Prof Dawson is recognised among 24 outstanding scientists to today receive a 2021 Honorific Award from the Australian Academy of Science (AAS). See the full list of recipients here.

“While many of these researchers are having direct impacts on our technology and everyday lives, others are pushing the boundaries of basic research – both of which are vital to the advancement of science,” says AAS President Professor John Shine.

“The Academy is proud to honour such a diverse range of researchers this year, reflecting the people driving Australian science.”


For more information contact the Peter Mac Communications team on 0417 123 048.

About Peter Mac

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre is a world-leading cancer research, education and treatment centre and Australia’s only public health service solely dedicated to caring for people affected by cancer.