July 3, 2023  Print

The Westmead Institute for Medical Research (WIMR) is delighted to announce the winner of The Paul and Valeria Ainsworth Precision Medicine Research Fellowship.

Congratulations to Associate Professor Thomas Tu from WIMR’s Storr Liver Centre.

The Paul and Valeria Ainsworth Precision Medicine Research Fellowship supports the advancement of early to mid-career researchers at WIMR, and WIMR’s Precision Medicine initiative. 

The Fellowship is awarded to one high achieving early or mid-career researcher whose work represents an innovative approach to their discipline, using Precision Medicine, where the potential for translational outcomes are significant.  It is expected that the Fellowship will help provide preliminary data and track record, allowing the winner to successfully apply for a larger grant from an independent granting body, such as the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) or Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

Professor Philip O’Connell, WIMR’s Executive Director and Chair of The Paul and Valeria Ainsworth Precision Medicine Research Fellowship selection panel, says that the calibre of applications was very high.

“The panel and I were very impressed with the applications received, from within WIMR and beyond.  On behalf of the selection panel, I’d like to thank all those researchers who took the time and effort to apply.”

Curing Hepatitis B
Associate Professor Thomas Tu’s application focused on a Precision Medicine approach to solving key issues related to Hepatitis B, liver cancer, and developing new treatments.

Associate Professor Tu says, “My research focuses on how Hepatitis B establishes a chronic infection.  If we can find out how the virus stays in the liver, we can try to make drugs to reverse this and cure the infection.

“My goal is to develop a cure for Hepatitis B and stop liver cancer from taking hold in those affected by the disease.

“This is a huge issue; a person dies every minute due to Hepatitis B and anything that can reduce this outcome is worthwhile.

“At the moment, we have no cure, and the major limitation is time and resources.  We have such passionate, experienced, and smart researchers looking at this.  We just need the support to make it happen.

“This is why The Paul and Valeria Ainsworth Precision Medicine Research Fellowship is so vital.  I cannot overstate the impact this funding will have on our research. I am extremely grateful to have been selected, and I sincerely thank Paul and Valeria Ainsworth for their vision and support.”

Living with Hepatitis B
Associate Professor Tu truly understands the need for better outcomes for those living with Hepatitis B.  He was diagnosed with Hepatitis B at the age of 14.

“My family is from Vietnam, where chronic Hepatitis B affects about 20% of the population. 

“That diagnosis was a shock and upsetting, but at the same time, I didn’t know what it meant.”

Associate Professor Tu is not only searching for a cure for Hepatitis B, he is also advocating for the Hepatitis B community.

“I was fed up with the lack of resources and support networks for people with Hepatitis B, so I started a website myself called HepBcommunity.org.  We have scientists and doctors answering people’s questions 24/7 as a completely free volunteer service and have now supported more than 1,500 people on the site.

“With others living with Hepatitis B, I have also started Hepatitis B Voices Australia, an independent non-profit that advocates, supports, represents and amplifies the voices of those affected by Hepatitis B.”

Congratulations to Associate Professor Thomas Tu, and thank you to all who submitted applications for The Paul and Valeria Ainsworth Precision Medicine Research Fellowship.