Discovery of new treatments for brain development disorders


To improve the quality of life for children and their families through the identification of new treatments for patients with a wider spectrum of genetic causes of brain developmental disorders.


The Royal Children’s Hospital, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and the University of Melbourne.

About the program

We anticipate that through this program of research, more children with intellectual disability will receive targeted treatment to enhance their brain development. By building capacity in registries, data science, clinical trials and implementation science, we will be in a position to generate new evidence about the cause, prevention and best treatment for neurodevelopmental disability. Such developments will not only improve the conditions of children with brain developmental disorders, but will enhance their general health, their future prospects and will impact the health and wellbeing of their families also. These benefits will potentially alleviate the economics of disability support on society.

The research team

  • Professor Doug Hilton, The Lorenzo and Pamela Galli Chair in Medical Biology
  • Professor Marnie Blewitt
  • Professor Anne Voss
  • Associate Professor Tim Thomas
  • Associate Professor Paul Lockhart
  • Dr Hannah Vanyai, Galli Senior Research Fellow
  • Dr Jordan Wright, Galli Senior Research Fellow
  • Samantha Eccles
  • Megan Iminitoff
  • Tamara Beck
  • Kelsey Breslin
  • Melody Leong
  • Dr Anna LeFevre
  • Sophie Morgan
  • Dr Sarah Donoghue
  • Inbal Kantor
  • Amy Faithfull

Professor Doug Hilton
The Lorenzo and Pamela Galli Chair in Medical Biology

Photo of Doug Hilton

Professor Doug Hilton is the Director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Head of the Department of Medical Biology at the University of Melbourne, and a member of the Australian Medical Research Advisory Board (AMRAB).

In 2017, Professor Hilton was named the inaugural Lorenzo and Pamela Galli Chair in Medical Biology at WEHI and the University of Melbourne.

He is best known for his discoveries in the area of cytokine signalling, his advocacy for health and medical research, and for gender equity in science. As head of the Molecular Medicine division at WEHI, Professor Hilton’s lab aims to understand which of the 30,000 genes are important in the production and function of blood cells, and how this information can be used to better prevent, diagnose and treat blood cell diseases such as leukaemia, arthritis and asthma.

Professor Hilton has been awarded numerous prizes for his research into how blood cells communicate and has led major collaborations with industry to translate his discoveries from the bench to the bedside. He is an inventor of more than 20 patent families, most of which have been licensed, and is a co-founder of the biotechnology company MuriGen.