World Health Day 2023

Celebrating 75 years of the World Health Organisation.

The World Health Organisation was founded 75 years ago with the aim of promoting health, keeping the world safe and protecting the vulnerable.

The School of Biomedical Sciences is proud of the contribution our world-class researchers and alumni have made, and continue to make, to this commitment to overall world health since that time.

Our work is ongoing, with our researchers collaborating and innovating to create a healthier world. Here are just three outstanding examples of world leading research with the potential to have a global impact, in keeping with this year’s World Health Day theme, Health for All.

Metabolic disease and diabetes

A/Prof Garron Dodd (Dept of Anatomy & Physiology)

Metabolic diseases, such as obesity and type-2 diabetes, are responsible for about 6.5 million deaths each year, and $2 trillion of global health expenditure. This epidemic also contributes to deaths from cancer, cardiovascular disease and stroke.

A/Prof Garron Dodd and his collaborators at the Dodd Laboratory: Metabolic Neuroscience, examine the role the brain plays in coordinating metabolism – from controlling how much fat we store to how much food we eat.

Last year, Dr Dodd received a Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Science Dean’s Innovation Grant to him to develop a novel approach for treating metabolic diseases.

Meet Garron - and go behind the scenes with some of the Department of Anatomy & Physiology's brilliant minds in our five-part micro-documentary series, In the Lab.

In the Lab

Developing mRNA vaccines

Prof Damien Purcell (Dept of Microbiology & Immunology)

The Purcell Laboratory located in the Dept of Microbiology & Immunology at the Peter Doherty Institute has received funding to develop an Australian-based mRNA vaccine manufacturing capability. The project 'RNA Powered Antiviral Antibodies' has been funded under the Medical Research Future Fund's mRNA Clinical Trial Enabling Infrastructure Program.

Professor Purcell has more than 30 years’ experience with RNA-research spanning mRNA modification, structure, translation regulation, stability, and viral packaging. He has studied the HIV-1 virus, with a view to developing HIV-1 vaccines.

He is also part of a team of Melbourne researchers who last year received funding to establish the Victorian mRNA Innovation HubThe Node and bring together expertise in high containment, in vitro cultivation (eg SARS-CoV-2, influenza), animal infection models, analysis of viral RNA elements, testing of antiviral efficacy and assessment of innate and adaptive antibody and cellular immune responses.

Controlling malaria

Prof Leann Tilley (Dept of Biochemistry & Pharmacology)

The Tilley lab is working as part of a global effort to understand and control malaria - the mosquito-borne disease which kills an estimated 450,000 people each year.

Professor Leann Tilley has recently co-authored research that discovered a new weapon against malaria's rising drug resistance. A new method to combat malaria which sees the disease turn against itself could offer an effective treatment for the hundreds of millions of people infected globally each year, as the efficacy of current antimalarial drugs weakens.

Published in leading peer-reviewed journal, Science, the research discovered a new weapon against malaria's rising drug resistance - an anti-malarial compound, ML901, which inhibits the malaria parasite but does not harm mammalian - human or other mammals’ – cells.

On this World Health Day we celebrate the contribution of all our world-leading researchers and staff who support them in their important work as we strive to advance human health – Diabetes, HIV and malaria are but a few of the health challenges embraced by our colleagues.