Finding cures for children's genetic diseases


Deputy Director humbled by medal


Children’s Medical Research Institute Deputy Director Professor Patrick Tam, has been awarded the prestigious Julian Wells Medal at the 2019 Lorne Genome Conference.

Professor Tam, who heads up CMRI’s Embryology Research Unit, was presented with the medal and delivered the Julian Wells Lecture on the first day of the conference. The medal is awarded to a scientist who has made an outstanding contribution to genome research and discipline of molecular biology.
“The award of the Julian Wells Medal, the premium award for Molecular Biology and Genome Research in Australia, which I never expected, is a pleasant surprise,’’ Professor Tam said.   “This award recognizes the quality of our research in genome biology, which has been strongly supported by the CMRI community, and the impact of the research outcome on paediatric precision medicine.”
“Personally, I feel very humble to be amongst the eminent scientists who have made a significant contribution to genome research.” 

Professor Tam joined CMRI in 1991 to establish a research program in mammalian developmental biology and genetics. He pioneered the use of the technique called micromanipulation and the technology of fate-mapping of the mouse embryo to document the blueprint of how an embryo is built and elucidate what has gone wrong that leads to birth defects. His work on the differentiation of embryonic cell types also laid the foundation for the use of stem cells in regenerative medicine.
He is Senior Principal Research Fellow of the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia and holds a conjoint appointment as Professor in the School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney, and Mok Hing-Yiu Distinguished Visiting Professor of the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Hong Kong. 
Professor Tam said he sensed a strong community support for the research at CMRI when he joined the institute more than two decades ago, which he still feels today.  “Over my career in Australia, a substantial element of the basic research on embryonic development of my team has been supported by the generous donations we received.
Professor Tam paid tribute to the contribution of philanthropy to his research program.  “With the Support from donations and philanthropy, we have the capacity to take action on new challenge in research as they arise.  It is absolutely critical that we can respond quickly to engage with frontier research, and we can’t do that with the conventional funding that is ear-marked and capped for a specific project.’’