Leann Tilley

THE 2022 LEMBERG MEDAL: LEANN TILLEY

Bio21 Institute

University of Melbourne

Professor Leann Tilley studied at the University of Melbourne (BSc, Hons) and Sydney University (PhD), and undertook postdoctoral fellowships at Utrecht University, The Netherlands, College de France, Paris and the University of Melbourne, before beginning her independent career at La Trobe University 1989. She was promoted to Professor in 2004. In 2011, she returned to the University of Melbourne and is now Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Pharmacology, at the Bio21 Institute, University of Melbourne.

Leann’s laboratory embraces a large range of technologies, such as structural cryoEM, X-ray crystallography, novel imaging technologies, molecular cell biology and chemical biology, to identify vulnerabilities in the malaria parasite and other pathogens. She is interested in the action of, and resistance to, anti-infective drugs; and is working with industry partners to design pathogen-specific compound that hijack adenylate forming enzymes. She believes that answering the major medical and biotechnology questions of the 21st century will require convergence of the life and physical sciences, with particular reliance on advanced imaging techniques and biocomputational approaches. She also believes that the development of drugs for diseases that affect patients who can’t afford expensive treatments, requires radical new approaches involving academic/private/public partnerships. She would like to be part of the exciting developments in these areas.

Leann is passionate about encouraging the next generation of scientists, particularly about enhancing the roles of women in science. She believes that answering important questions requires teams of gender and culturally diverse, passionate people who provide different ideas, perspectives and backgrounds – building a collective intelligence.

Leann served as Director and Deputy Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coherent X-ray Science (CXS). This Centre received international acclaim for its cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional work and its contributions to the development of novel imaging techniques.

In 2015, Leann was awarded the Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellowship from the Australian Research Council, to measure and model malaria parasites. She has played a leadership role in promoting women in science; this includes her establishing and implementing the Georgina Sweet Awards for Women in Quantitative Biomedical Science. She was honoured with the title of Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor, by the University of Melbourne in 2016.