Featured News JCU’s winning duo

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Thu, 18 Aug 2016

JCU’s winning duo

One studies how parasitic worms can help combat coeliac disease, the other is researching the impact of climate change on marine fish.

Dr Paul Giacomin Dr Jenni Donelson

Dr Paul Giacomin (photo: Romy Bullerjahn) and Dr Jennifer Donelson

Two James Cook University scientists have each received one of Queensland’s most prestigious science prizes – the Queensland Young Tall Poppy award.

Dr Paul Giacomin and Dr Jennifer Donelson were announced as recipients of the awards at a ceremony in Brisbane last night.

Dr Giacomin is a Research Fellow at JCU’s Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine. His research focuses on parasitic worms and how they can help people who suffer from coeliac disease (an autoimmune disease triggered by eating gluten-containing foods).

Dr Giacomin said he’s honoured to receive the award, given the high standard of scientific research currently taking place in Queensland.

“It is an exciting time to be doing this kind of medical research, which may eventually result in new ways to treat inflammatory diseases and improve human health."

“My ultimate goal is to develop a pill-based medicine that contains these worm molecules, which would greatly improve the health and lifestyle of people with this disease,” Dr Giacomin said.

Dr Donelson is a Research Fellow at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, based at JCU, and is studying the ability of marine fish to cope with, and adjust to, ocean warming.

“I am honoured to receive this award. It recognises the importance of promoting science among the broader community, which is critical to managing the challenges our planet’s ecosystems face.

“How species will cope with climate change over many years, not just how today’s animal populations respond to environmental change, is essential for future conservation and management,” Dr Donelson said.

James Cook University continues to feature prominently in the annual awards. JCU is one of 10 Queensland universities, but over the past three years, its researchers have won 6 of the 28 available awards (more than one in five of the awards).

The Queensland Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy, Leeanne Enoch has congratulated the winners of the Young Tall Poppy awards.

“Their achievements and passion for engaging Queenslanders with science is truly remarkable and commendable.

“Queensland is home to a large pool of scientific talent and it is appropriate that we acknowledge these rising stars who are not only leading ground-breaking research but also passionately communicating how their research outcomes will affect the well-being of Queenslanders,” Leeanne Enoch said.


The prestigious annual Young Tall Poppy Science Awards program is run in collaboration with the Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS). It aims to recognise the achievements of Australia’s outstanding young scientific researchers and communicators.

Winners of Young Tall Poppy Science Awards help promote the study of, and careers in, science among school students and teachers, as well as an understanding and appreciation of science in the broader community.


Photos of Drs Giacomin and Donelson are available at:



For more information please contact:

Richard Davis

Head of Media and Communications, JCU

0413 451 475