|Professor Alan Cowman|
|Date of Birth:
|27 December 1954|
|Affiliations (at the time of the award):
|Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researcher|
|Summary of body of work recognised by MSA:
|Professor Alan Cowman is being considered for the 2013 Mahathir Science Award in recognition of his groundbreaking research on Malaria that has led to effective understanding of the pathogenesis of the infection and innovative technological development of reverse genetics of Plasmodium falciparum, describing the first gene knock out for this organism. These contributions have led to (i) the identification of better targets for the development of new drugs against the infection, (ii) paved the way for a candidate vaccine against the disease and (iii) accelerated efforts to solve one of the major health problems in the tropics.|
|Latest Biography/Profile of Organisation:||Professor Alan Cowman is a very distinguished parasitologist / cell biologist. He is a leading figure in Malaria research and he has since 1981 been author / co-author on over 260 research papers and reviews which in 2012 attracted some 1,400 citations. His current h-index is 72 and is one of the most visible and highly referenced scientists in the malaria field. Professor Cowman’s original and review articles have been published in prominent refereed journals including Nature, Science, Cell and Proc Natl Acad Sci USA.
Professor Cowman’s research on malaria, one of the leading causes of death in the world has led to a better understanding of the effects of infection from this parasite on the human host and laid the foundation for work towards effective treatment and vaccine. His research includes elucidating the mechanisms by which the merozoites invade the host red cells that are the key in the understanding of the pathogenesis of the infection and development of the clinical disease.
More recently Professor Cowman has led the technological development of reverse genetics of Plasmodium falciparum and described the first gene knock out for this organism. This has paved the way futher towards finding a candidate vaccine for this infection that continues to kill millions of people in Africa and Asia annually. Although effective treatment for malaria infections have been available for many decades, the rapid development of drug resistance has made many of the currently available anti-malarial drugs ineffective. Professor Cowman’s research has contributed further to the body of knowledge on the host-parasite interaction that has led to the identification of better targets for the development of new drugs against the infection.
Professor Alan Cowman was born on 27 December 1954 in Brisbane, Australia. He began his tertiary education at the Queensland Institute of Technology in Brisbane followed by the University of Griffith, Brisbane, Australia where he graduated with a degree in Science in 1979. He then received his PhD in Parasitology from the University of Melbourne in 1983.
Professor Cowman began his career as a Post-doctoral Fellow at the Department of Biochemistry, University of California, Berkeley from 1984 to 1986. Subsequently he returned to the The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne where he had spent time as a PhD student. Currently Professor Cowman serves as the Head of Division of Infection and Immunity at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI). At WEHI, he built an internationally recognised malaria research programme focusing on the pathogenesis and immune response related to Plasmodium falciparum infections.
Throughout his career in research, he has received funding from many national and international granting bodies to pursue his research in malaria. He has received numerous awards and honours for his outstanding contributions including the 1990 Burnet Prize, the 1992 Glaxo Award for Advanced Research in Infectious Diseases, the 1993 Gottschalk Medal for Medical Science and Biology of the Australian Academy of Sciences, the 1994 Boehringer-Mannheim Medal, the 2001 Royal Society of Victoria Research Medal, the Centenary Medal from the Governor-General of Australia and appointment as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.