Victoria Prize for Science and Innovation

13 December 2022

Professor Eric Morand and Associate Professor Joshua Ooi.

In recognition of their substantial contribution to research using targeted cell therapies to treat autoimmune diseases such as lupus and vasculitis, Professor Eric Morand and Associate Professor Joshua Ooi have been jointly awarded the Victoria Prize for Science and Innovation 2022, in the Life Science category.

One of Victoria’s most prestigious science and innovation awards, it is delivered by Veski on behalf of the Victorian Government for a scientific discovery or technological innovation, or a series of such achievements that significantly advances knowledge.

The award celebrates leadership, determination and creativity, honoring the commitment and achievements of the recipients and aims to inspire similar commitment in aspiring scientists and technologies by demonstrating where a career in science and innovation can lead.

Professor Eric Morand is the Head of the School of Clinical Sciences, at Monash University and Director of Rheumatology at Monash Health. He founded the Monash Lupus Clinic, Australia’s first multidisciplinary research-focused clinic for lupus and this formed the foundation of the Australian Lupus Registry and the Asia Pacific Lupus Collaboration, now among the largest longitudinal cohorts of SLE patients ever assembled.

His research group focuses on the vital intersection between clinical and basic research, with programs including glucocorticoid-induced mechanisms in the immune system, clinical measurement, outcome predictors, and biomarkers in lupus.

I am deeply honored by the recognition of Veski and my peers that is embodied in being awarded the Victoria Prize. Our work is always directed at finding solutions to the problems of patients with immune diseases like lupus – and the ability at Monash for clinicians and scientists to work side by side has literally led directly to this innovation,” said Professor Morand.

Associate Professor Joshua Ooi is the Head of the Regulatory T cell Therapies Group at the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash University. He developed a novel process to genetically engineer immune cells to specifically switch off the misdirected autoimmune response in patients with autoimmune disease. In collaboration with Professor Morand, they have applied this technology to patients with lupus.

“I am deeply honored to jointly receive the Victoria Prize for Science and Innovation (Life Sciences). The amazing journey that Eric and I have been on started as an impromptu corridor conversation 5 years ago which led to a lightbulb moment and now this. We have an incredibly hard-working and passionate team that turned that lightbulb idea into a reality and I’m grateful to them and Monash University for the support provided,” said Associate Professor Ooi.

In accepting the award, Professor Morand and Associate Professor Ooi join a select group of 36 other leading Victorian scientists who have received a Victoria Prize since 1998.

About Monash University

Monash University is Australia’s largest university with more than 80,000 students. In the 60 years since its foundation, it has developed a reputation for world-leading high-impact research, quality teaching, and inspiring innovation.

With four campuses in Australia and a presence in Malaysia, China, India, Indonesia and Italy, it is one of the most internationalized Australian universities.

As a leading international medical research university with the largest medical faculty in Australia and integration with leading Australian teaching hospitals, we consistently rank in the top 50 universities worldwide for clinical, pre-clinical and health sciences.

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