2017 Hugh Rogers Fellows announced

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2017 Hugh Rogers Fellows announced

Fellowships send Melbourne artists and researchers to Boston

Friday, 15 December 2017

A Melbourne artist focused on issues surrounding climate change and two Melbourne researchers focused on human health will travel to Boston in 2018 as Hugh Rogers Fellows to research, explore, learn, collaborate, and create international taskforces to build Melbourne’s knowledge capital.
The Melbourne Boston Sister Cities Association (MBSCA) in partnership with The City of Melbourne today announced three 2017 Hugh Rogers Fellows who will undertake research and projects that will expand and enhance Melbourne’s and Boston’s reputations as centres of knowledge excellence.

The three recipients will embark on a diverse range of self-contained research projects at world-renowned institutions in Boston. The breadth of research projects reflects the diversity that Melbourne and Boston offer as centres of excellence in various knowledge sectors. 

The 2017 recipients are:

Thea Rossen - Music for our Changing ClimateIn collaboration with Boston artist Maria Finkelmeier, Thea Rossen will develop a brand new work for percussion that engages with the issues surrounding climate change. The work will engage with collections of relevant scientific data and feature an immersive lighting component and sound installation. With the support of the Kadence Arts organisation, Maria and Thea will create an inspiring performance piece capable of reaching large international audiences with a positive and informative message about climate change.

Dr Jennifer Payne, Monash University - The fight against superbugs: developing antibiotics that arm our immune system
No new antibiotics have reached pharmacy shelves in 20 years. Unless new treatments become available, the death toll from antibiotic-resistant bacteria is predicted to overtake cancer by 2050. The deadly pathogens we face are not only resistant to current treatments, but can also evade the body's own defence strategy – our immune system. The new antibiotics Jennifer is developing directly attack resistant bacteria, while simultaneously activating the immune system and inciting the body’s inherent defence capability. Dr Payne will visit Harvard Medical School as well as the Division of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital.

John-Paul Plazzer, The Royal Melbourne Hospital - Enhancing the InSiGHT Databases by building capabilities with ClinGen
Medical advances will be strongly influenced by genetics and genomics, and while the technical capacity to sequence the human genome is now close to routine, the interpretation of genetic variation remains a ‘road block’. InSiGHT is considered a leading exemplar of addressing the issue of imbalance between DNA sequencing capacity and its interpretation. The InSiGHTdatabases of most genes responsible for gastrointestinal (GI) cancer predisposition is curated and managed in Melbourne at The Royal Melbourne Hospital. John-Paul Plazzer, who is the professional curator of the InSiGHT databases, will engage directly with the US professionals working on this issue. This will achieve the important goal of harmonising internationally the challenging task of interpreting variants of uncertain significance in genes responsible for familial GI cancers with the most informed and authoritative interpretation based on the combined expertise of genomic centres in Boston and the international InSiGHT databases.

The Hugh Rogers Fellowships were established to honour the unique contribution that MBSCA co-founder Hugh Rogers made to these two great global cities. The purpose of the Hugh Rogers Fellowships is to encourage and support innovative people and ideas by funding research and projects that expand and enhance Melbourne’s and Boston’s reputations as centres of knowledge excellence in three areas of research and practice. Depending on the quality of applications and the availability of funds each year, one or more Fellowships of up to $10,000 may be awarded in these nominated areas of endeavour.  

The Fellowships are awarded to practitioners and researchers in the early stages of their careers. Each Fellowship is intended to assist the longer-term development of the Fellow’s career by furthering their research or project and by providing them with opportunities to create new professional networks.

The 2017 fellowship recipients will embark on their trips to Boston in early 2018.

For more information about past and present recipients, visit