The two Melbourne-based researchers have each won a Pfizer Australia Fellowship, believed to be Australia's largest single private medical research grants after a gruelling independent selection process.

Dr Anthony Hannan, BSc (Hons) PhD (Syd), 36 is a Senior Research Fellow from the Howard Florey Institute, University of Melbourne has been awarded a Pfizer Fellowship worth $1 million. Dr Hannan's recent work demonstrated that environmental factors such as mental and physical exercise can delay the onset of some degenerative brain diseases such as Huntington's Disease (HD). HD was thought to be the epitome of genetic determinism. Environmental enrichment of mice was found to dramatically delay onset and progression of brain disease.

Dr Hannan will use his Research Fellowship to further explore key areas of neuroscience, and work towards the eventual development of new therapeutic approaches for devastating brain diseases such as Huntington's, schizophrenia and Alzheimer's.

Dr Stephen Nutt, BSc (Hons) PhD, from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute has also been awarded the second Fellowship for 2006. Stephen Nutt's project concentrates upon blood cells and the development of the immune system. It is hoped that new information in this area will lead to the development of therapies for diseases of the blood such as autoimmune diseases and leukaemia.

The project aims to understand how the stem cell achieves the ability to maintain itself throughout the life span of the individual and to generate billions more mature cell types and to determine the relationships of various cell progeny. This should provide us with a map for the production of the blood cell types that contribute to the immune system.

MEDICA.de; Source: Research Australia