Telethon Kids Institute and The University of Western Australia have appointed internationally-renowned genetic disease researcher, Professor Aleksandra Filipovska, as the inaugural Lou Landau Chair of Child Health Research.
“Professor Filipovska is internationally renowned for her pioneering work in mitochondrial genomics, genetic disease and synthetic biology.”
-UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Amit Chakma
The newly created position is named after Emeritus Professor Lou Landau, a ground-breaking paediatrician who was instrumental in the founding of Telethon Kids Institute and the former Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at UWA.
Professor Filipovska currently leads a team of researchers at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and UWA, with a component of her team working at Telethon Kids, examining ways to better understand and treat mitochondrial diseases – a group of rare but debilitating and potentially fatal disorders of the body’s cells.
Professor Filipovska is Deputy Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Synthetic Biology, an NHMRC senior research fellow and a Professor at UWA’s Medical School.
Image: Professor Aleksandra Filipovska with Emeritus Professor Lou Landau.
Mitochondrial diseases are the most common group of inherited metabolic disease in the world, affecting as many as one in 5,000 people with conditions that cause diminished growth, brain and nervous system failure and loss of motor function.
There are currently no effective cures for mitochondrial diseases.
Professor Filipovska said she was honoured to be awarded the prestigious Lou Landau Chair to be able to focus her work on childhood mitochondrial diseases, using emerging technologies to find new treatments.
“MD affects young infants and children and has devastating consequences that include failure to thrive, seizures, lactic acidosis, motor regression and cognitive impairment, liver dysfunction and heart problems,” she said.
“Often, diagnosis comes quite late so parents and families go through enormous stress and worry in their search for answers.
“My team is focused on developing new technologies that could become a world-first for treatments of MD in children.”
Telethon Kids Institute Executive Director, Professor Jonathan Carapetis, said the global impact of Professor Filipovska’s research made her stand out in a world-leading field of candidates.
“Professor Filipovska’s research is truly cutting-edge, using the very latest technology to tackle some of the cruellest diseases affecting children,” he said.
“Her appointment as the Lou Landau Chair of Child Health Research is a fitting tribute to Professor Landau’s life-long commitment to taking on the biggest challenges in child health.”
UWA’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Amit Chakma said Professor Filipovska had played a pivotal role in genetic disease research.
“Professor Filipovska is internationally renowned for her pioneering work in mitochondrial genomics, genetic disease and synthetic biology,” Professor Chakma said.
“The insights she has provided into the underlying pathology of mitochondrial diseases has brought us a step closer to a potential treatment for the debilitating disorder.”
Emeritus Professor Lou Landau said Professor Filipovska’s work has the potential to drive global, life-changing discoveries.
“I am honoured to have a researcher of Professor Filipovska’s calibre named the Lou Landau Chair of Child Health Research,” he said.
“Her work using emerging technologies to help us better understand and treat mitochondrial disease has the potential to save the lives of countless children into the future and help their families, and it will be very rewarding to watch as this agenda progresses under her leadership.”
Professor Filipovska will officially take up the role in August.