The design of a novel vaccine that disarms the bad properties of chlamydia has seen Connor O’Meara take out the AusBiotech-GSK Student Excellence Award.


The Queensland University of Technology PHD student will receive a $7,000 grant to present his research at an international conference.


Currently, chlamydia accounts for 84% of all sexually transmitted infections, with cases increasing by about 20%, with 75,000 reported cases in 2010. The disease is particularly insidious, with as much as nine out of 10 people not presenting any signs or symptomns of an infection. As a result, the disease can remain undiagnosed for years, and can ultimately lead to infertility.


“Our approach towards protection against chlamydia is innovative because we design vaccines that elicit tolerance towards disease, despite the presence of an infection.” Mr O’Meara said.


“I’m delighted to be recognised for my research. My advice to people is always to be passionate about your research, and as long as you love what you’re doing, good research follows, it certainly has with me.


“I would encourage fellow researchers to consider these types of awards. It’s always good to try and present your findings internationally – getting information from world renowned experts and hearing their thoughts on the research. The prize will allow me to do that,” Connor said.


Judged by an independent panel of science experts, Connor O’Meara took out the title against six other top state finalists from across Australia, following a competitive presentation of their research at the AusBiotech 2012 national conference.