Professor Magdalena Plebanski has been appointed as the inaugural director of RMIT’s Biomedical and Health Innovation Enabling Capability Platform (ECP).
Plebanski, who joins RMIT from Monash University, is an internationally recognised and award-winning researcher with a focus on developing practical and affordable vaccines and treatments for complex diseases like malaria and cancer.
She has also pioneered the use of synthetic size-defined non-inflammatory nanoparticles for drug delivery. Her appointment comes after an extensive international search and completes the recruitment of directors for RMIT’s suite of eight ECPs.
ECPs bring together RMIT research students and faculty to create new sources of value and impact.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation Professor Calum Drummond said that Plebanski’s appointment was a major coup for RMIT.
“Professor Plebanksi has forged a stellar career in medical and health research and is well-credentialed to lead our Biomedical and Health Innovation ECP,” he said.
“Magdalena came to Australia from Oxford University in the UK, where she showed new ways in which malaria parasites can trick the human immune system.
“More recently, her insights have been used to help understand cancer progression across multiple human clinical trials, particularly leukemia and ovarian cancer.
“Her nanoparticle studies also opened the door to new nanotechnology applications to prevent allergic airways disease. She’s also had more than 100 patents in 14 patent families, and supported the formation of successful biotechnology companies.
“I am really excited to have Magdalena on board and can’t wait to see what she achieves in this important field for RMIT, Australia and the rest of the world.”
Delivering real interventions for healthy living
Plebanski said that she was excited to join RMIT and will leverage the University’s existing strengths to drive innovative solutions to complex diseases and the challenge of an aging population.
“Worldwide, pockets of dense habitation and an aging population challenge existing health resources. Australia is no exception. Increased pockets of pollution also promote inflammatory diseases,” she said.
“The vision I have for the Biomedical and Health Innovation ECP is to engage actively and deeply with the other ECPs, to deliver real interventions to support healthy living across the lifespan. We will focus on disease prevention and holistic health.
“We will engage biomedical scientists with clinicians, as well as across Platforms, with materials, chemical and manufacturing engineers, to develop vaccines, drug-delivery systems, diagnostics and bionic innovations.
“Existing strengths in Traditional Chinese Medicine, psychology and musculoskeletal research, will support new drug discovery and healthy living interventions in the priority area of chronic disease (including cancer, inflammatory and infectious diseases).
“RMIT’s strength in complex systems analysis, including bioinformatics, will enable large scale data to practically support powerful personalised medicine approaches.”
Story: James Giggacher