Australian of the Year wins top American honour

Australian of the Year and cervical cancer vaccine inventor Professor Ian Frazer has won an award from one of America's premier cancer research groups.

Professor Frazer, the Director of The University of Queensland's Centre for Immunology and Cancer Research (CICR), is joint winner of the Cancer Research Institute's (CRI) 2006 William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Tumour Immunology.

Professor Frazer will share the medal with German scientist Harald zur Hausen, the man who first linked the skin wart virus, human papilloma, to cervical cancer in the 1970s.

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) causes abnormal cells or tissue growth on the feet, hands, vocal cords, mouth and genitals.

About 60 types of HPV have been identified so far with each strand infecting certain parts of the body.

Professor Frazer won the Coley medal for creating a vaccine against HPV and the potential to prevent cervical cancer.

He wins $5000 and a medallion which will be presented at a dinner in New York on June 27.

"I'm delighted that our team's work should be recognised on the international stage in this way," Professor Frazer said.

"It is particularly prestigious to share an award with Harald zur Hausen, who is the father figure of research in HPV associated cancer.

"It's a great honour to be sharing this award with someone of his stature."

The Coley Award has been presented by the CRI each year since 1975 to recognise outstanding achievements in basic and tumour immunology.

Award winners are chosen by The Academy of Cancer Immunology -- a select group of 45 medical specialists, including five Nobel prize-winners, from 11 countries.

CRI supported the first early clinical trials of Dr Frazer's vaccine, which was created in 1991.

The Coley award is the latest of many accolades for the cancer fighter who won the 2005 CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Science and was yesterday named one of five Queensland Greats.

The Queensland Greats Awards honour icons who have played inspiring roles in the history and development of Queensland.

Professor Frazer was named Australian of the Year in January and has also earned many honorary awards from Australian medical groups.

A recent $1.25 million State Government Smart State Fellowship will expand his research at the CICR.

Professor Frazer said he was now focused on developing vaccines to cure people already infected with the HPV virus, particularly in the developing world.

A special luncheon in his honour will be hosted by the Princess Alexandra Hospital Foundation on June 23 at the Sofitel Hotel. For more information call 32405212.

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MEDIA: Professor Frazer (+61 732 405 315), Anton Sanker at CICR (+61 412 057 512) or Miguel Holland at UQ (+61 733 652 619)


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