Professor Steve Wilton, Director of the Western Australian Neuroscience Research Institute (the Perron Institute) and Professor of Molecular Therapy at Murdoch University, has been nominated for the 2016 Western Australian of the Year in the Professions category.

The Professions Award is given in acknowledgement of excellence resulting in major social, scientific or economic impact at a state, national or international level.

Through painstaking research over 25 years, Professor Wilton and his team have produced a first ever treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy by designing drugs that alter gene expression. Currently in clinical trials, the first drug “eteplirsen” is pending approval by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Professor Wilton is now applying these genetic drugs to look into treating other conditions, including cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis and spinal muscular atrophy, the most common genetic cause of death under the age of two. Through his research and personal advocacy, he has increased the profile of rare diseases.

Previous awards bestowed upon Professor Wilton and his colleague Professor Sue Fletcher, include the Eureka Prize for Medical Research Translation, widely regarded as one of the “Oscars” of Australian science.

Professor Wilton completed his PhD in Biochemistry, University of Adelaide and worked for biotechnology companies before joining the Western Australian Neuroscience Research Institute (the Perron Institute) in 1991. He is currently the Director of the Perron Institute and holds the Foundation Chair in Molecular Therapies at Murdoch University.