UOW welcomes generous gift to accelerate advances in molecular pathology

The University of Wollongong’s (UOW) capacity to develop diagnostics and pathology approaches to allow early detection of disease will be significantly accelerated, thanks to the generous support of two anonymous donors.

This remarkable gift of $300,000 will be dedicated to creating a new Fellowship – The Horizons Fellow of Molecular Pathology – based at the new Molecular Horizons facility at UOW’s Wollongong campus, due for completion by the end of the year.

A globally prestigious research opportunity, the Fellowship will attract international scholars to the position bringing new ideas and knowledge to UOW.

Distinguished Professor Antoine van Oijen, Director of Molecular Horizons, welcomed the gift identifying the profound impact generous donations such as these can have, enabling potentially life-changing research.

“It is a great example of how philanthropy can be aligned with strategic research directions. This gift will prove to be catalytic for our efforts to develop cutting-edge technology to visualise disease processes in human tissue. By applying fundamental science to clinical problems, our research will have real-world impact.

“Molecular Horizons is all about developing molecular visualisation technology to drive the life sciences and develop new medical approaches. Together with the donors, we looked carefully at how the gift can have the biggest impact on the goals that are shared by both the donors and the University,” says Distinguished Professor van Oijen.

This gift will be used to support the development of tissue imaging techniques by chemical fingerprinting. Heading up this research area will be Dr Shane Ellis, who will join Molecular Horizons in January 2020. The recipient of the Fellowship will have the opportunity to work under the mentorship of Dr Ellis, commencing next year.

Dr Ellis graduated from UOW with a PhD in Chemistry in 2012, before moving to the Netherlands for postdoctoral research at the Maastricht Multimodal Molecular Imaging Institute where he became an Assistant Professor (tenured) in 2014.

“We have been lucky to recruit Dr Ellis to the Illawarra and are happy to be able to help the establishment of his research team with this Horizons Fellowship of Molecular Pathology,” says Distinguished Professor van Oijen.

“A pioneering researcher in the area of mass spectrometry, a technique that measures chemical fingerprints of material, he uses this method to measure the chemical composition of living material, spot by spot. This allows him to construct chemical photographs of cells and tissues, not using light but using the chemical information as a way to image.

“We look forward to continuing this exciting journey with the donors and help move the science forward. We are also excited about supporting the career growth of a talented junior researcher with this Fellowship.”

“I would like to thank our donors for the generous contribution they have made, enabling us to make this Fellowship possible,” he says.

Story by Sarah Vickery

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