Gatton livestock studies spurred a flu-fighter

December 08, 2005

The University of Queensland will tomorrow award the Gatton Gold Medal to a scientist whose Gatton studies sowed the seeds of a revolutionary flu drug.

Professor Mark von Itzstein is internationally renowned for research contributing to the development of the world's first anti-flu drug, Relenza.

He gained his passion for science while studying at the college that grew into UQ Gatton, and tomorrow will return to the campus to receive the Gatton Gold Medal 2005 from UQ Chancellor The Hon Sir Llew Edwards, AC. He will also address a Gatton graduation ceremony.

Professor von Itzstein said he was a 15-year-old from Archerfield when he began a Certificate of Animal Husbandry at the then Queensland Agricultural College in 1974.

Raised on a small horse and cattle farm, he had dreamed of being a veterinarian. He entered the course as an alternative to the senior school certificate, with the intention of matriculating in veterinary studies.

Clever teaching and a broad science curriculum opened his eyes to the synergies between areas of science, and alerted him to the potential of more in-depth scientific studies.

"Within animal husbandry we studied chemistry, biology, genetics, geology - a whole range of wonderful things," Professor von Itsztein said.

"What it really did for me was open up the multi-disciplinary nature of science. The whole interplay of science was, for me, really exciting."

His interest in "all creatures great and small" became a curiosity about tiny creations: molecules.

"What intrigued me most was, instead of looking at macro level systems (like a cow), I was looking at the molecular levels - chemistry and biology."

Enthusiastic teachers spurred him on, "providing the view that the world is your oyster, you can do anything if you put your mind to it".

Instead of vet science, Professor von Itzstein studied a Bachelor of Science and, in 1984, gained a PhD in Organic Chemistry. He worked in Germany and Melbourne before returning to Queensland in 2000 to establish and lead the Institute for Glycomics at Griffith University.

Professor von Itzstein's research focuses on carbohydrate science and finding new generation antibiotics, anti-virals and drugs to treat cancer and other conditions.

He will attain the Gatton Gold Medal 2005 for outstanding achievements in his vocation and his contributions to industry.

Other accolades include the Australia Prize (1996), the Alexander von Humboldt Forschungspreis Award (2001), an Australian Research Council Federation Fellowship (2002) and a Centenary Medal (2003).

He is a Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, and a member of the American Chemical Society and of the New York Academy of Sciences.

Professor von Itzstein will receive the medal during a graduation ceremony beginning at 11am on Friday, December 9, 2005 in the gymnasium at UQ Gatton.
-end-
Media contact: Susanne Schick, UQ Gatton 61-40-926-5587; Fiona Kennedy 61-41-338-0012

Research Australia

Related Chemistry Articles from Brightsurf:

Searching for the chemistry of life
In the search for the chemical origins of life, researchers have found a possible alternative path for the emergence of the characteristic DNA pattern: According to the experiments, the characteristic DNA base pairs can form by dry heating, without water or other solvents.

Sustainable chemistry at the quantum level
University of Pittsburgh Associate Professor John A. Keith is using new quantum chemistry computing procedures to categorize hypothetical electrocatalysts that are ''too slow'' or ''too expensive'', far more thoroughly and quickly than was considered possible a few years ago.

Can ionic liquids transform chemistry?
Table salt is a commonplace ingredient in the kitchen, but a different kind of salt is at the forefront of chemistry innovation.

Principles for a green chemistry future
A team led by researchers from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies recently authored a paper featured in Science that outlines how green chemistry is essential for a sustainable future.

Sugar changes the chemistry of your brain
The idea of food addiction is a very controversial topic among scientists.

Reflecting on the year in chemistry
A lot can happen in a year, especially when it comes to science.

Better chemistry through tiny antennae
A research team at The University of Tokyo has developed a new method for actively controlling the breaking of chemical bonds by shining infrared lasers on tiny antennae.

Chemistry in motion
For the first time, researchers have managed to view previously inaccessible details of certain chemical processes.

Researchers enrich silver chemistry
Researchers from Russia and Saudi Arabia have proposed an efficient method for obtaining fundamental data necessary for understanding chemical and physical processes involving substances in the gaseous state.

The chemistry behind kibble (video)
Have you ever thought about how strange it is that dogs eat these dry, weird-smelling bits of food for their entire lives and never get sick of them?

Read More: Chemistry News and Chemistry Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.