Prof Jian Yang wins Prime Minister's Prize for Life Science

18 Oct 2017

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Professor Jian Yang, from QBI and the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), has been awarded the Prime Minister's Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year for his pioneering work in helping to unravel the complexity of the human genome and genetic traits.

“Professor Yang had made paradigm-shifting contributions to the study of human genetics through developing new methods for identifying the genetic factors underlying complex diseases,” said UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj.

“Professor Yang’s work is opening the way for us to better understand the basis of disease, which allows the development of new drugs and treatments, and improved prediction of who is at risk from genomic disease. While some diseases such as haemophilia are caused by a change to only one or two genes, most conditions are far more complex. They involve large numbers of changes across the genome that individually have little effect but together with environmental factors can cause a devastating disease," he said.

It is the second year in a row that a UQ scientist has won the award, with Professor Kerrie Wilson taking the honour in 2016 for her work on the value of ecosystems and the most effective ways to protect them.

Genomics research helps thousands of scientists

QBI Director Pankaj Sah congratulated Professor Yang on the prestigous award. 

"This is a fantastic achievement and deserving recognition of Professor Yang's pioneering work towards understanding inherited traits and the human genome,” Professor Sah said.

Professor Yang received his degree in biological science and his PhD in statistical genetics from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, west of Shanghai in China, before moving to Australia in 2008 and joining UQ in 2012.

The Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year is awarded in honour of Professor Frank Fenner AC, an Australian researcher who played a key role in the worldwide eradication of smallpox and also directed the effort to reduce the country’s rabbit population using the myxoma virus.

Professor Yang received a silver medallion and lapel pin, presented to him by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at Parliament House in Canberra. The award also comes with $50,000 in prize money. 

 

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