Internationally recognised leader in childhood cancer research and nanomedicine therapeutics, CBNS CI Professor Maria Kavallaris, has been selected to receive the prestigious Lemberg Medal by the Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the annual meeting in Perth in October.
Awarded annually, the Lemberg Medal is presented in memory of Emeritus Professor M.R. Lemberg, who was the Society’s first President and Honorary Member.
In 2019 Maria was appointed as a member of the Order of Australia for her significant service to medicine, and to medical research, in the field of childhood and adult cancers.
Maria’s research focuses on identifying the mechanisms of action and resistance to anticancer drugs, discovering new protein interactions in cancer and the development of cancer diagnostics and therapeutics using nanotechnology.
Her career to date has encompassed the discovery of clinically important mechanisms of cancer drug resistance and the development of less toxic cancer therapies using nanotechnology. Her motive, she has said, is that improved and safer therapies, particularly for childhood cancers, are desperately needed. “While today 8 out of 10 children with cancer survive, they experience highly toxic side effects during treatment. Of the children that survive, 4 out of 5 can face life-long effects from their treatment including heart disease, osteoporosis and other cancers,” she said.
To address this, Professor Kavallaris has been working with Australian collaborators to develop nanoparticle delivery systems that carry therapy to tumour cells while sparing normal cells. This aims to reduce the chance of toxic side effects.
“Our focus is on new types of nanoparticles that can deliver therapy into cancer cells then biodegrade into harmless byproducts. We’re very excited about their potential,” she said.
CBNS Director Professor Tom Davis said that Professor Kavallaris winning the Lemberg Medal, was “in recognition of a career devoted to not only extraordinary research, but to a commitment to finding better options for the treatment of childhood cancer and also as a role model and mentor to past and future generations of scientists,” he said.
This text was kindly provided by CBNS Media Consultant Tania Ewing.