What is the Centenary Institute Lawrence Creative Prize?
The Centenary Institute Lawrence Creative Prize (CILCP) is an exciting initiative that promotes medical research in Australia and is committed to encouraging a domestic culture of excellence in the field of biomedical research. It’s an unfortunate reality in research that many researchers can’t follow through on their creative ideas, passions or curiosity because of a lack of funding. But it’s those ‘seemingly crazy’ ideas that often have unexpectedly important results.
The Prize is positioned as the premier prize for recognition of spirited young post doctoral scientists tackling the big and bold questions in biomedical research in Australia and is awarded for creative biomedical research excellence in its broadest definition, including trans-disciplinary research. In its fifth year, the prize has become highly valued in the medical research community and is made possible only with the generous support of sponsors and donors who believe in recognising the brilliance of young researchers.
The award was created in honour of Neil Lawrence, the inaugural Chairman of The Centenary Institute Medical Research Foundation. As the Executive Creative Director of STW his own work combines creative flair with a deep understanding of highly complex strategic, political and corporate issues. Neil, his wife Caroline and his family hold Centenary very near to their hearts, and are all passionate about advancing the field of medical research further within Centenary.
About Neil Lawrence
Why the Centenary Institute “Lawrence” Creative Prize?
Neil Lawrence, Founder of Lawrence Creative Strategy and Executive Creative Director of STW Group – Australia’s largest communications group – was the Inaugural Chair and was instrumental in the establishment of the Centenary Institute Medical Research Foundation. He is also a member of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees.
Neil has worked ceaselessly towards the Foundation’s successes, creating an annual fundraising dinner and art sale – the Foundation’s largest individual fundraising event, now in it’s fourth year and responsible for funding the Institute’s Bioinformatics team. He also created and produced a prominent national advertising campaign and created the rebranding for the Institute.
Neil’s reputation in the creative sphere is global: he has represented Australia internationally as the Chairman of Judges at International film and advertising awards and The Australian awarded him Marketer of the Year for running the Kevin07 ad campaign. Since then, he’s run and won campaigns for Australia’s first directly elected woman Premier Anna Bligh and for the Minerals Council of Australia.
His work combines creative flair with a deep understanding of highly complex, strategic political and corporate issues. One of his various probono campaigns recently was the launch of indigenous nonprofit group GenerationOne whose goal is to end the disparity between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians in one generation. He writes regular columns analysing campaign strategy for The Australian and has appeared on the ABC TV series Gruen Nation and The Drum, focusing on political campaigns. Neil likes boxing, surfing, playing bluegrass guitar “quite badly” and wandering in the rainforest at the family retreat near Jamberoo.
The Centenary Institute Lawrence Creative Prize focuses on creativity -the essential ingredient in all human endeavour, whether in science, art or marketing. It will be presented to the Medical research scientist who demonstrates the greatest creativity in their scientific approach in a given year.
“It’s a small step towards recognising that the most creative medical research is usually done by researchers early in their career - at a time when it’s hardest for them to secure funding. As a nation we should do more to identify and support our best young researchers. We will be richer for it.
Dr Marie Liesse Asselin Labat, WEHI
Marie-Liesse was part of the team at Melbourne’s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) that discovered the breast stem cell. She then worked to meticulously unravel how and why they contribute to the progression of breast cancer.
She leads a laboratory at WEHI focusing on lung stem cells and their role in cancer, complementing and expanding on her earlier work on breast cancer stem cells and the part they play in spreading cancer.
Dr Jian Yang, Diamantina Institute
Jian solved one of the great puzzles of human genetics - why the genes typically implicated in inherited diseases like schizophrenia, obesity and diabetes only account for a small amount of their heritability. He has developed a widely-distributed, novel software tool that other researchers now apply his statistical genetic methods to their data. Since winning the Centenary Prize, Jian has been awarded $1.2 million to unlock the genetic underpinning of thousands of diseases and recently been awarded the 2015 Ruth Stephens Gani Medal for research in human genetics
Dr Connie Wong, Monash University
Connie thinks we may be able to prevent early deaths following stroke with fibre-based diet. She initially used innovative microscope techniques to determine how stroke weakens the immune system. Now she is studying how it also induces leakiness in the gut wall, leading to infection and an upsurge in deaths. And the solution may well lie in diet.
A/Prof Geoff Faulkner, Mater Research Institute
Associate Professor Geoff Faulkner is a Principal Research Fellow and head of the Genome Plasticity and Disease group. His core research seeks to understand the role of retrotransposons, a type of “mobile DNA”, in causing genetic mosaicism in neurons. This variation may be a fundamental aspect of healthy brain function, and appears to change in neurological diseases, including Rett syndrome and schizophrenia.
Testimonials for the Prize
Director of WEHI, Professor Doug Hilton, BSc Monash BSc(Hons) PhD Melbourne FAA FTSE
'The Centenary Institute Lawrence Creative Prize is a wonderful initiative to award early career medical researchers who are embarking on their independent program. At a time where they haven’t built up the track record to compete with established, senior researchers, recognizing their creativity and innovation with the Lawrence Creative Prize not only offers them financial support but also boosts their profile, giving them a competitive advantage when applying for research funding.
I urge Australians and sponsors alike to get behind the Lawrence Creative Prize. You will be supporting our young scientists who have the brilliance to think of new ideas and the courage to test them out, in their common quest to advance our knowledge of the diseases affecting today’s society. Better understanding means better diagnosis, better treatment and better health for the whole nation. Let us all contribute to shaping the future of medical research in Australia'.
Executive Director of Garvan Institute of Medical Research, John Mattick AO FAA FRCPA(Hon)
“I am writing to say how influential and important the Centenary Lawrence Creative prize has become for young investigators in Australian biomedical research.
The Centenary Institute is to be congratulated for this initiative, which has brought it great credit and great publicity. It is quickly becoming the premier prize for emerging investigators across Australia and, most importantly, rewards and encourages the beautiful and essential intersection between creativity, logic and achievement in science.
I very much hope it will continue, and thank you on behalf of the community”.
Nobel Prize-winning immunologist, Professor Rolf Zinkernagel enthusiastically endorses the prize:
“Typically it is early in their careers that scientists are at their most creative. It’s as PhD students and post-doctoral fellows that they generate the ideas that set the pattern of their studies to come. I should know. My collaboration with Peter Doherty that led to our joint Nobel Prize began as a post-doctoral fellow in Canberra.
But because early career researchers have no track record, support from the established funding bodies is hard to come by. So I’m heartened to see a Prize whose purpose is to encourage Australia’s best young biomedical researchers to express their creativity. And it just might encourage them to stay in Australia and build their careers here.”
Prof. Charles R. Mackay FAA, Monash University, AUS:
“The Centenary Institute creativity prize inspires both young and old and brings enormous kudos to the recipients, and to the host institution that generously provides this prize - it recognises Australia's next superstars in the making.”
How do I create a research video?
Please see the Thinkable guide that helps reseaerchers create an engaging research video. The easiest way is to contact your university or organisation's media department who can help in producing and creating your research video.
Who can I contact to ask more questions?