CI Professor Maria Kavallaris AM is internationally renowned for her leadership, research and advocacy in the treatment of childhood cancer and can now add finalist of the CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science to her many accomplishments.
Professor Kavallaris is a CBNS CI, a Director of the Australian Centre for NanoMedicine at UNSW and Head of the Translational Cancer Nanomedicine Theme and NHMRC Principal Research Fellow at the Children’s Cancer Institute. She has made important discoveries in relation to the mechanisms of clinical drug resistance and tumour aggressiveness in childhood cancer.
“To be able to make a difference to the lives of children with cancer and their families by developing better treatments and improving survival rates is very humbling. Even if you can save one child’s life, that’s an incredible feat,” Professor Kavallaris said.
How cancer cells become resistant to chemotherapeutic drugs is a key aspect of Professor Kavallaris’ research. One of her most significant discoveries was identifying specific genetic changes in tumour cells that make them resistant to chemotherapy and developing a means of targeting these genetic changes and reversing the drug resistance.
Professor Kavallaris is also recognised as an Australian pioneer in the medical application of nanotechnology and has had significant success finding ways to package and deliver chemotherapy drugs in nanostructures that specifically target tumour cells. This approach not only aims to improve drug efficacy but also drug safety, minimising harmful effects on healthy tissues – a particularly important consideration in growing children.
Text from UNSW media release published 29 September 2020