The 2015 Merck Millipore Research Medal: Benjamin Kile

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

Kile Professor Benjamin Kile is an NHMRC Principal Research Fellow and Joint Head (with Associate Professor Guillaume Lessene) of the ACRF Chemical Biology Division at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI). After graduating with degrees in Science and Law from Monash University, he completed a BSc (Hons) with Professor Andy Choo at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in 1997. This led to PhD studies in the Cancer and Hematology Division at WEHI under the supervision of Professor Warren Alexander and Professor Douglas Hilton. Upon graduating in 2001, Ben pursued postdoctoral studies with Professor Monica Justice at Baylor College of Medicine, USA. He returned to WEHI in 2004, joined the institute’s Faculty in 2005, and became an independent Laboratory Head in 2008.

The Kile lab is focused on the molecular regulation of blood cell formation and function, with a particular interest in the role of programmed cell death pathways. This has included the identification of apoptotic mechanisms that regulate megakaryocyte and blood platelet survival, which has assisted in the clinical development of a new class of anti-cancer drugs called the BH3 mimetics. More recent efforts have uncovered the link between apoptotic caspases and the suppression of damage-associated molecular pattern (DAMP) signalling. The Kile lab’s research has been published in a range of journals including Cell, Nature Immunology, Journal of Experimental Medicine and Blood. Ben’s achievements have been recognised with a number of awards and prizes, including the 2010 Australian Federal Government Science Minister’s Prize for Life Scientist of the Year, an NHMRC 10 of the Best Research Projects 2011 award and the 2013 Gottschalk Medal of the Australian Academy of Science.

In addition to his research activities, Ben was Chief Scientific Officer of the biotech company MuriGen Therapeutics Pty Ltd from 2009–2013, the Chair of the NCRIS-funded Australian Phenomics Network Management Executive from 2010–2013, and currently sits on the board of the Australian Genome Research Facility, Australia’s largest provider of genomics services.