10 May 2023

This year’s winner of the LEO Foundation Award in Region Asia-Pacific is Professor Laura Mackay from The University of Melbourne in Australia, whose contributions to our understanding of T cells and their relevance for immunological memory have been groundbreaking.

This year it is Professor Laura Mackay who is Laboratory Head and National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Leadership Fellow at the University of Melbourne, and Immunology Theme Leader at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in Melbourne, Australia, who wins the LEO Foundation Award for Region Asia-Pacific. Her momentous work within the field of immunological memory earns her the award worth USD 100,000, as she continues to build upon her own research shedding light on how tissue-resident T cells provide first-line defense against infection.

The LEO Foundation Award hopes to provide a boost to talented and inspiring young researchers’ careers and in doing so strengthen the pipeline of aspiring and excellent dermatological investigators. There is little doubt that Laura Mackay provides an exciting example of the heights that such young talents can reach. The LEO Foundation is proud to be supporting her influential research.

T cells and their relevance for immunological memory

Not only does Laura Mackay’s research plan to continue the development of an impactful field, but she has also been a key part of defining this field. With her work on tissue-resident T cells, Laura Mackay has changed scientific understanding that immune memory is not exclusively controlled by elements found in the blood, but also by a population of permanently resident T cells found at the body’s surfaces. Laura Mackay has demonstrated that these T cells are key for combatting both infection and cancer, and now aims to discover common genes and molecular pathways that drive the tissue-resident memory T cell fate.

Laura Mackay is honored to be recognized for her research:

“The LEO Foundation’s work to highlight young skin researchers will greatly support our teams’ pursuit to understand the role of memory T cells in the skin. It is an honor to be recognized for this award among the talented pool of researchers across the Asia-Pacific region and to be afforded the opportunity to champion skin immunology research.”

Laura Mackay

Laura Mackay represents great potential for the field of immunological memory, and Chief Scientific Officer at the LEO Foundation, Anne-Marie Engel, is excited that the Foundation can support her work:

“At the LEO Foundation we are proud to support the research of Laura Mackay into how T-cells contribute to the body’s immune system memory, not only in the blood, but also at the body’s surfaces. We have no doubt this can lead to more groundbreaking discoveries in the future.”

Anne-Marie Engel

Laura Mackay

Professor, University of Melbourne, Australia


Theme Leader, Immunology, The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, The University of Melbourne, Australia.


Professor, The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, The University of Melbourne, Australia.


Associate Professor, The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, The University of Melbourne, Australia.


Laboratory Head, The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, The University of Melbourne, Australia.


Postdoctoral Research Officer, Laboratory of Professor Francis Carbone, The University of Melbourne, Australia.

In 2023, all three LEO Foundation Award winners were presented at an award ceremony on stage on 10 May at the International Societies for Investigative Dermatology (ISID), Japan. Read the full story here, and articles about the other award winners here and here.

About the LEO Foundation Award

The LEO Foundation Award – worth USD 100,000 – recognizes outstanding young researchers and scientists from around the world whose work represents an extraordinary contribution to skin research and has the potential to pave the way for new and improved treatments for skin diseases.  

The award is given three times annually, one in each of the three regions: the Americas, EMEA and Asia-Pacific. It is granted in open competition with all award applications being evaluated by an independent and international global review panel. The panel members are appointed annually by their respective dermatology societies in the three regions. 

About the LEO Foundation

The LEO Foundation is one of Denmark’s largest commercial foundations and an engaged majority owner of the pharmaceutical company LEO Pharma. The Foundation’s main objective is to ensure the company’s long-term development and success.  

Besides the ownership, the LEO Foundation provides philanthropic grants with the aim to support the best international research in skin diseases and make Denmark a global beacon for skin research. The Foundation has given more than EUR 130 million in grants and awards – in Denmark and all over the world.