Friday, 08 September 2023

Reception to welcome Professor David Julius winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology in 2021

Rod and I are delighted to welcome you all to Government House and especially Professor David Julius and his scientific collaborator, and partner in life, Professor Holly Ingraham.

One of my great privileges as Governor, and as patron of SAHMRI, is coming to know more of research excellence, and its potential to translate into improved outcomes for all.

Many of us have felt the chill of an Adelaide winter, or the sting of a hot January sun.

Our ability to sense heat, cold, and touch is essential for our survival, as it allows us to avoid contact with those things that can produce injury.

For nearly 30 years, Professor Julius has used pain-causing agents such as chilli peppers and wasabi to determine how these nerve channels are triggered.

His ground-breaking research has helped the scientific world understand the mechanisms behind our experiences of touch, temperature, and pain.

His work exemplifies the ingenuity needed to achieve the discoveries that ultimately, lead to improving quality of life for all, and has, of course, been recognised with the highest of accolades, the Nobel Prize.

Professor Julius - Rod and I were pleased to learn that your relationship with SAHMRI started eight years ago, with an international research project in sensing and transmitting pain.

We were fascinated to learn the methodology used – including trialling more than 100 spider, scorpion, and snake venoms to discover a new target for irritable bowel syndrome pain.

Following this discovery, a team of researchers led by Professors Julius and Ingraham and SAHMRI-based Professor Stuart Brierley, discovered how pain is signalled from the gut to the brain.

Each of these discoveries is life changing.

Chronic gut pain is experienced by around 11 per cent of those who are living with irritable bowel syndrome.

There is currently no cure.

By understanding how we experience pain, scientists can more easily identify new therapies and procedures that can effectively treat – or even cure – chronic visceral pain.

I was delighted to learn that while in Adelaide, Professor Julius will meet SAHMRI’s Visceral Pain Research Group to discuss further opportunities for collaboration, namely on chronic gut pain.[1]

It is through partnerships such as yours that we can address the fundamentals of science – the what and the how – and apply it to improve quality of life for all.

Just as Professor Julius’ research opens new insights for treating pain, his commitment to mentoring his colleagues will further encourage pursuit of the unsolved mysteries of biology.

I speak on behalf of all South Australians in thanking Professor Julius and Professor Ingraham in sharing their expertise and experience with our state’s best and brightest.

I am confident that your exceptional curiosity-driven research will inspire your collaborators and guide our state’s early career researchers towards a brighter future.

Coming events