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Metcalf Prizes for Stem Cell Research

Each year, the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia awards and celebrates two exceptional mid-career stem cell researchers with the Metcalf Prizes for Stem Cell Research. The initiative aims to recognise and reward scientists who are conducting excellent and sustained work focused on stem cell research.The prizes recognise and honour the exceptional contribution made to stem cell research by Emeritus Professor Donald Metcalf, AC, FRS, FAA, who died in December 2014.The prizes support the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia’s mission to promote the study and use of stem cells in the prevention or control of disease in human beings and to enhance stem cell public education.The 2019 Metcalf Prizes for Stem Cell Research have been awarded to Felicity Davis and James Hudson. They will be awarded again in 2020. The Metcalf Prizes, each worth $50,000, are awarded to: one male and one female stem cell researcher working in Australia between 5-10 years past their PhD or MD (research-based). Click here to meet the Metcalf Prize alumni. 2019 prize information (Provided below for guidance only) Dates for 2019 Metcalf Prizes Applications opened: Monday 24 June 2019 EXTENDED: Applications closed: Friday 2 August 2019 The two winners were notified in mid-September 2019 The Metcalf Prizes were awarded at an event in November 2019 How to apply Read the selection criteria, prize conditions and FAQ. Draft your application offline using the template. Prepare your full CV including full list of publications. Complete the online application form, including uploading your CV and list of publications. (Optional) Applicants can invite colleagues, peers or mentors to write a confidential referee's letter in support of their application. Such letters should be emailed directly by the referee to the prize jury, via tanya@scienceinpublic.com.au. Please ask your referee(s) to write 'Metcalf Prize referee letter' in the email subject line. Sit back and wait while applications are sent to the jury panel for review and shortlisting. We encourage applicants to seek a mentor to provide advice and guidance on preparing their application.Please note: we will only receive applications via the website. Please do not send any additional information to us by email. It will not be used in the judging. If you have any questions about the online form or the application process, please contact Tanya Ha from Science in Public, which is administering the Metcalf Prizes for us: tanya@scienceinpublic.com.au Download the draft template We strongly recommend that you draft your application offline before submitting your application online, as you won't be able to save your online application and go back to it. You can download this template for your draft, but please note that the online form will only support basic formatting. We will not accept applications forms as Word documents or PDF. You must submit your application using the online form (active when the Prizes are open for applications). 2019 Metcalf Prizes application form - offline version  
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Criteria and conditions

Eligibility criteria Applicants must be involved in stem cell research. Applications are open to post-doctoral researchers who have completed their PhD or MD (research-based) within the past 5-10 years (from August 2009 to August 2014). Allowances will be made for research career breaks. Applicants must be Australian citizens or permanent residents. Applicants must be associated with an Australian-based research institution, and must be intending to continue their research predominantly in Australia for the next 12 months. Applications will be considered only if they are complete and submitted by the due date. Exceptions to these eligibility criteria may be considered by the prize jury. Applicants should explain their circumstances in the ‘personal statement’ section of the application form. Selection criteria The jury is looking for up-and-coming leaders in stem cell research: researchers who have already had several high impact publications and other recognition of their research including grants, prizes and invitations to speak at conferences. If you don’t yet have an established publication record, you may wish to defer applying for the Metcalf Prize for a year or two while you further establish your career. The Metcalf Prize jury will review all applications and select two Metcalf Prize winners – one man and one woman – based on: Intellectual merit, including academic record and publication record Leadership potential, including: ability to plan and conduct research; ability to work as a team member or independently; ability to interpret and communicate research findings Potential to have a continuing impact in stem cell research in Australia Professional esteem. The jury’s decision will be final and no correspondence will be entered into. Conditions of the prize Financial conditions Two $50,000 Metcalf Prizes are available, but the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia reserves the right not to award one or more of the prizes in any given year. The Metcalf Prizes may not be deferred nor renewed. Metcalf Prize winners will receive the funds in two part-payments: the first at the award ceremony and the final payment six months later. Candidates will be permitted to obtain matching grants or supplemental prize grants if they do not prohibit or pose a conflict in acceptance of the Metcalf Prize. The prize money is intended to help finance and support the scientific research of the Prize winners. This can include: equipment and reagents/consumables; travel and accommodation expenses, such as the cost of attending conferences or visiting overseas laboratories of excellence and relevance; child care expenses; and support for the hire of a research assistant, if required to ensure that the applicant’s research progresses. The prize money should not be used to: pay personal costs other than child care; supplement the applicant’s salary, other than in exceptional circumstances; or pay institutional overheads. These are personal prizes and will be paid directly to the recipients, not to their research institution. Expectations The Metcalf Prizes will be announced at an award ceremony in November 2019, and the two Metcalf Prize winners will be expected to attend, with the cost of travel and accommodation (if required) covered by the Foundation. In the 12 months following their award, the Metcalf Prize recipients will be expected to act as advocates for stem cell science in Australia, and to be available for events, interviews with journalists and similar opportunities. The Metcalf Prize recipients will be offered mentoring and media training to help them make the most of the opportunities provided by the Prizes. Reporting requirements Six months after the Metcalf Prize ceremony, recipients will submit a brief status report, highlighting career achievements since receiving the award, any public engagements or media appearances and any other invitations which have been extended to them as a result of their award. This first report should be submitted to the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia and will be forwarded to jury members for review. The second prize payment will follow receipt of this report. A lay-version of activity should be incorporated into this report. One year after the Metcalf Prize ceremony, recipients will submit a report including the above, plus a reconciliation of funds spent and an indication of how these resources/activities have advanced their career. This second report should be submitted to the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia within one month of the completion of the Metcalf Prize year (ie: within 13 months of the prize award ceremony) and will be forwarded to jury members for review.
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Meet the Metcalf Prizes Jury

Professor Caroline Gargett Endometrial stem/progenitor cells, endometriosis, pelvic organ prolapse, regenerative medicine, mesenchymal stem/stromal cells, tissue engineering, women's health Professor James Angus Cardiovascular science with regard to stroke, hypertension and coronary artery reactivity Professor Andrew Elefanty Cardiac stem cells, gene targeting, development and differentiation, blood cells Associate Professor Ngaire Elwood Cord blood stem cells, cancer, cellular therapy Professor Geoff Lindeman Breast stem cells, breast cancer cells of origin, molecular genetics, epigenetics, hormonal signalling, stem cell regulation, clinical translation Professor Susie Nilsson HSC biology, transplantation and microenvironment,  murine & human.  xenograft models, ESC derived HSC, HSC mobilisation Professor Jane Visvader Breast stem cells, breast cancer cells of origin, molecular genetics, epigenetics, hormonal signalling, stem cell regulation Professor George Yeoh Molecular genetics, molecular and cellular changes during liver carcinogenesis, liver stem cells, regenerative medicine
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Frequently Asked Questions

Please read these FAQ alongside the eligibility criteria and conditions of the prize. We can't write criteria that cover every eventuality. If you don’t precisely meet the criteria, but feel that your particular circumstances merit consideration, you are invited to nominate and to explain your circumstances in the personal statement – the last question on the online form.The jury and prize organisers will assess every application – but the jury’s decision will be final and no correspondence will be entered into. Questions about the application process Q. Where can I explain my special circumstances?A. The last question on the online form is a personal statement, which allows you to outline your particular circumstances more fully. Q. Should I include my work or home address on the application form?A. Use the address where you are happy to receive mail. Q. Will I get a confirmation email after submitting the online form?A. Yes you will receive an email once your application has been received. Q. How should I format my CV?A. Your CV should be no more than five pages and will include a full list of publications, either included in your CV or attached as a separate document.The jury will consider these alongside the application that you have already submitted. A CV in a similar format to NHMRC/ARC guidelines would be fine. It should include the following details: Personal details: name, address, contact details Qualifications, awards and prizes: all tertiary degrees or diplomas, and relevant certificates, prizes and awards Employment history: starting with your current role and continuing in reverse chronological order Appointments, leadership roles and professional memberships: please list any relevant activities including seats on committees, memberships of professional societies and editorial roles, etc. Conferences, seminars, talks and lectures: please list any relevant presentations and seminars Patents and other achievements: details of any relevant patent applications, software packages developed etc. Grants and funding: for projects in which you have played a significant role Full publication list: including impact factors and citation scores. Papers in press should also be included. We would prefer you to name these files using the format “lastname_firstname_CV.ext” – for example, Smith_Jane_CV.pdf Questions about eligibility for the Prizes Q. I don’t meet the eligibility criteria to the letter; can I still apply?A. Yes, you can still apply. Make note of why you believe your application should still be considered in the personal statement – the last question on the form – and the jury will take it into account. Q. I received my PhD or MD more than ten years ago, but I have less than ten years post-doctoral experience. May I still apply?A. We are looking for mid-career scientists, with 5–10 years post-doctoral experience. You should have received notice of approval of your PhD or MD (research-based) between August 2009 and August 2014 to be eligible. Exceptions will be made for research career breaks including: Maternity, carer or family leave. Note: applicants can claim 1.5 years per child for maternity/parental leave. This applies to parents of any gender. Periods of part-time work Time spent on non-research related clinical work. You should outline your circumstances in the personal statement section of the application form. Q. I am currently working part-time. Am I still eligible?A. Yes. Indicate your circumstances and it will be taken into account by the judges. Q. Do I need to be employed by a university or a research institution?A. You must be employed as a stem cell researcher, but you may have associations with more than one employer. Your main employer should be an Australian institution. Q. I am not an Australian citizen or permanent resident. Am I still eligible?A. The Metcalf Prizes are intended to support Australian citizens and permanent residents who are carrying out research at Australian research institutions. The jury will consider exceptions to this rule on a case-by-case basis. If you feel your situation merits special consideration, outline your circumstances in the personal statement section of the application form. Q. What counts as stem cell research?A. The Prizes support the Foundation’s mission to promote the study and use of stem cells in the prevention or control of disease in human beings and to enhance stem cell public education. If you feel that it’s a stretch to claim your work is truly ‘stem cell research’, it’s likely the jury will also feel that way. That said, if your work pushes boundaries and blurs the lines between stem cell research and another field in novel and exciting ways, the jury will certainly consider your application. However, the prize aims to recognised sustained research focused on stem cell science. Q. I've got a different questionA. send us an email -  tanya@scienceinpublic.com.au
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How Don Metcalf changed cancer treatment

In 2011, journalist Chris Kimball noticed he was losing weight, along with other odd symptoms. The 35-year-old father of two young children found out he had an unusual and aggressive form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system. And it was severe. It had spread to multiple lymph node sites, other organs and his bone marrow. Journalist Chris Kimball (Photo: ABC) Within a week, Kimball had started treatment. He would need an intensive, brutal regime of chemotherapy followed by a bone marrow transplant to rebuild his immune system from scratch using donor stem cells from his brother. Kimball’s road to recovery involved pain, fear, uncertainty, and several weeks in an isolation ward to protect him from infections. “I don’t think you can under-estimate how full-on that process is,” he says. “When you spike a fever and you have no immune system, it’s scary. It is the worst moment of your life and you’re completely isolated, waiting for that moment when you can start having some protection.” Gruelling as Kimball’s treatment was, it would have been even tougher without a glycoprotein called granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF). G-CSF stimulates the bone marrow to produce stem cells, white blood cells and other blood cells, and releases them into the bloodstream. Colony stimulating factors—there are four different types—were discovered in the early 1980s by the pioneering Australian stem cell scientist Professor Donald (‘Don’) Metcalf, who pursued cancer research at Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) in Melbourne. The Foundation’s Metcalf Prize for Stem Cell Research is named in his honour. How Don Metcalf changed cancer treatment Forty-odd years ago, a life-saving bone marrow transplant or round of chemotherapy treatment often resulted in a severely weakened immune system and a lengthy hospital stay to avoid or treat potentially deadly infections. Bone marrow donation for transplantation was also a demanding process that required a painful operation under general anaesthetic. These days, things are easier for bone marrow transplant recipients and donors, as well as some other kinds of cancer patients undergoing treatment, because of the work of Don Metcalf, who died in 2014 at the age of 85. Metcalf discovered colony stimulating factors, the hormones that coax blood-making stem cells to form infection-fighting white blood cells. This revolutionised bone marrow transplantation and has helped more than 20 million patients worldwide recover faster after chemotherapy or stem cell transplants. Blood cells, blood and lymph cancers, and cancer treatments Blood cells only live for a few weeks. Bone marrow, the spongy tissue inside hollow bones, is the body’s blood-making factory, replenishing the body with about 10 billion new blood cells every day. Blood cancers, such as leukaemia, arise when a mutated cell in the bone marrow begins to divide uncontrollably. Leukaemia often causes the production of large numbers of immature white blood cells that don’t fight disease properly. Similarly, lymphoma is a cancer that starts in the lymphatic system and produces large numbers of abnormal lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. Strong chemotherapy to kill cancer cells can also kill normal cells, including white blood cells and platelets, leaving patients vulnerable to infections. Bone marrow transplants reseed a patient with healthy blood-forming stem cells from a donor so they can regrow new healthy marrow. But this takes time. Dr Christopher Juttner, a retired clinical haematologist and past Director of the Foundation, says the contribution of the four types of colony stimulating factor, particularly G-CSF, to both bone marrow transplantation and chemotherapy has been huge. “It allows people to be treated with more intensive chemotherapy without getting into trouble with long periods of low neutrophil counts – the family of white cells that defend against bacterial infection,” explains Juttner. “G-CSF makes the period with low white blood cell counts after bone marrow transplantation and after chemotherapy shorter. Patients are much less likely to get infections, or if they do G-CSF can be brought in and they can recover enough for their next treatment.” This was Kimball’s experience. It was the middle of the year when he was diagnosed, and his disease was well advanced, making treatment a race against time. “If I hadn’t been diagnosed when I was I wouldn’t have been around at Christmas.” Kimball had G-CSF mid-way through his first treatment cycle, which involved eight rounds of chemotherapy. “G-CSF treatment was explained to me as a way of giving your white cell count a boost so that your system could tolerate more chemo and try to get the disease under control so that they could consider the bone marrow transplant process after that,” says Kimball. A wee history of discovery Don Metcalf discovered colony stimulating factors in the early ’80s. Juttner explains what a feat this was. “Don’s discoveries were done in an incredibly onerous way; the modern tools of molecular biology weren’t around then. Initially he purified these factors from huge amounts of urine! There were buckets in the lavatories in WEHI asking everyone to wee into them to get litres and litres of urine to extract tiny amounts of these growth factors, which was done with old-fashioned chemistry.” He was originally assigned laboratory space in the animal house at WEHI. Surrounded by 10,000 mice and allergic to their fur, he spent eight years doing pioneering research with a runny nose. In late ’80s and early ’90s, Metcalf and his colleagues showed that G-CSF treatment was able to induce stem cells to come out of the bone marrow into the peripheral blood (the blood that circulates around the body). This makes them much more accessible for transplantation. Juttner, a haematologist working on peripheral blood stem cells, was involved in these studies. “Now virtually all bone marrow transplants are done using mobilised peripheral blood stem cells rather than bone marrow stem cells,” says Juttner. He says a typical bone marrow transplant using peripheral blood stem cells with G-CSF sees neutrophil levels recover in eight to 10 days, compared with 18 to 25 days in the early days of bone marrow transplantation. Platelet levels also replenish much faster. With chemotherapy, depending on the specific type, G-CSF makes the neutrophils come back a week to ten days faster than they would otherwise. “Which means there’s a much lower incidence of infection and a better chance of survival.” Millions of people have benefited from the treatments Metcalf pioneered. Opera singer Jose Carerras of ‘The Three Tenors’ fame credits the CSF treatment he received in 1987 with saving his life from acute myeloid leukaemia. Señor Carreras visited WEHI in 1991 to meet Metcalf and thank him for his role in developing the treatment. Jose Carreras with Don Metcalf in Melbourne (Photo: Walter and Eliza Hall Institute) Blood brothers Bone marrow transplants can be brutal. Kimball’s gruelling chemo regime aimed to bring the lymphoma under control and get him transplant-ready with enough weight and general health to cope. He found a compatible bone marrow donor match in his brother Sean. “Sean had five days of G-CSF injections to stimulate the stem cells into his circulation  leading up to the harvesting.” Kimball says the harvesting process was like dialysis. Blood was taken from Sean and put in a centrifuge to ‘spin off’ the stem cells before being returned to his system. It took several hours. The stem cells were then prepared for transplantation to Kimball. “The actual transplant was a bit of an anticlimax,” says Kimball. “They hook up this salmony coloured bag of the stem cells to your drip, in it goes and you’re off and running. There’s all this fanfare about transplant day, but afterwards you’re thinking ‘Is that it? Righto, I might go and watch a movie.’” Transplant day: Chris Kimball (left) pictured with his brother and stem cell donor Sean (centre) and with his donated stem cells. (Photo: Chris Kimball) The road to recovery Kimball’s disease had been severe. His recovery needed time in an isolation ward. “The big thing is the fear. Your white cell count is zero; you’ve got nothing. You are desperately watching your numbers to see that first blip, that day when it says 0.001 and you know that it’s starting to bounce back. “That period in between, I couldn’t see my family, couldn’t see my kids. You have this fear of copping a big bug that will kill you. And the hospital food. If the cancer didn’t kill me, the chicken schnitzel would have!” “Anything that can make that period shorter or take away some of that uncertainty and fear is really important.” One of Kimball’s haematologists later reflected that when he came into the transplant process, she felt he had a fifty-fifty chance of getting out alive. “The toss of a coin: that was my chance of getting out of the isolation ward alive. Every day after your white cell count starts to climb, the odds move further in your favour.” Kimball is in long-term stable remission. Before the lymphoma he was the presenter of the ABC’s 7.30 ACT program, and he’s now living in regional NSW and back working for the ABC developing the skills and potential of the network’s regional journalists. He’s healthy, playing football, surfing and having fun with his family. Honouring Don Metcalf Don Metcalf (centre) pictured with inaugural Metcalf Prize winners Kaylene Young and Jose Polo. (Photo: Mark Coulson/NSCFA) Juttner says Metcalf’s contribution to both pure science and the patient community is enormous. He authored more than 720 peer-reviewed publications and his work helped bring bone marrow transplantation to a stage where it can sometimes be performed on an out-patient basis. “When we started doing bone marrow transplants in the ’70s nobody would have dreamt that would be the case. Many people feel he should have been awarded the Nobel. We used to talk about how bizarre it was that he wasn’t.” His discoveries narrowed the window of vulnerability for people recovering from bone marrow transplants and chemotherapy as part of cancer treatment. “He was delighted when I asked him if we could name the Foundation’s prize program for up-and-coming researchers after him. He was actually very moved, and I was surprised by that because he was such a gruff old guy. “We had this hero, here in Melbourne. He made probably the most practical contributions to making stem cell therapies real of just about anyone.” Read Don Metcalf’s profiles from Walter and Eliza Hall Institute or the Australian Academy of Science. Read Chris Kimball’s account of his time in isolation in The Canberra Times. Read more about the winners of the Metcalf Prizes for Stem Cell Research.
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