Two Peter Mac researchers have been awarded prominent fellowships from the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Dr Louise Cheng (pictured right), Group Leader of the Stem Cell Growth Regulation Laboratory, has been awarded an ARC Future Fellowship for her project “Awaking quiescent neural stem cells”, and Dr Michelle Yong, an Infectious Diseases Consultant, has been awarded an NHMRC Early Career Fellowship for her work “Improving outcomes of cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection in recipients of haematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT)”.

Dr Cheng's research will examine the role nutrients play in switching stem cells between inactive and active states, as a means of controlling and determining the ultimate size and function of the brain.

“This funding is a great boost for the fundamental research carried out in my lab, and will help us to better understand the link between nutrition and brain development,” says Dr Cheng.

“This research will increase our understanding of how energy breakdown and nutrition influence organ size control, by determining how organs communicate with each other to convert nutrient signals into cell growth action.”

Dr Yong’s research aims to develop a way to predict which cancer patients, who have received these specialised cells as part of their treatment (HSCT), are at risk of reoccurring infection.

“This project and funding is the accumulation of many years of work, so the recognition is fantastic not only for myself, but for my supervisors and research team,” says Dr Yong.

“The outcomes of this research will better improve CMV infection consequences in transplant recipients through improved knowledge of how patients become immune to this type of infection and improving treatment options.”

The application field for these two fellowships is highly competitive, with only a limited number of people who are considered to be of outstanding ability, offered the awards. 

Both will provide funding for the selected project from 2019.