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Prestigious honour for two Centre investigators

21 November 2013

The Maurice Wilkins Centre is celebrating the election of two of its incoming principal investigators as Fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Professor Antony Braithwaite and Professor Gregory Cook, both from the University of Otago, were last night named amongst the thirteen top researchers and scholars to receive the honour.

"Being elected as a Fellow is an honour given to our top researchers for showing exceptional distinction in research or in the advancement of science, technology or the humanities,” said Academy Chairperson Professor Geoff Austin in announcing the 2013 Fellows.

Professor Braithwaite and Professor Cook are both Maurice Wilkins Centre associate investigators. As part of the Centre’s planned evolution, they will be appointed as principal investigators and take up their positions on the management committee from 2015.

Professor Braithwaite, from the Department of Pathology at the University of Otago, is an expert in the molecular mechanisms of cancer.

He has established himself as one of the world’s authorities on a protein called p53, which is a central molecular player in the processes by which the body resists virus infection and the development of cancer. Professor Braithwaite is also a staff scientist at the Children’s Medical Research Institute, based at the University of Sydney, and splits his time between Otago and Sydney.

Professor Cook, from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Otago, is a world-leading authority on the metabolism and energetics of microbial growth.

His research focuses on the processes of bacterial metabolism and energetics in order to find new drug targets to combat bacterial pathogens. The goal of this work is to produce a new class of antibiotics – termed metabiotics – that specifically target the metabolism of microorganisms.  Professor Cook is a current James Cook Fellow, Royal Society (2012-2014).