Lab+Life Scientist Apr 2015

Page 25

women in science

Pancreatic cancer researcher is

NSW Woman of the Year Pancreatic cancer researcher Professor Minoti Apte has been announced 2015 NSW Woman of the Year by Premier Mike Baird and Minister for Women Pru Goward. This is not the first significant honour for Professor Apte, who was last year awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for her services to medical research, tertiary education and the Indian community.


is currently leading preclinical studies that are anticipated to create a new combination therapy to help improve treatment outcomes for pancreatic cancer patients. professor at UNSW’s South Western

Accepting the award, Professor Apte called on

Sydney Clinical School and research group leader at

state and federal governments to make increased

the Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research,

funding in medical research a higher priority. She

Professor Apte is investigating pancreatic cancer at

also called for better support for women seeking

a cellular level to find out how and why the deadly

to balance family and career, praising UNSW for

cancer is so aggressive and spreads so quickly. She

providing “family-friendly workplace arrangements

was the first in the world to develop a method to

and supporting women who want to balance family

isolate pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs), providing a

with pursuing a career in science, academia or

much-needed research tool for studying the path

medical research”.

that pancreatic fibrosis (scarring of the pancreas) takes.

Professor Apte plays an active role in research training through her supervision and mentorship

Her group established that PSCs were

of PhD, masters and honours students. She is the

responsible for producing the prominent scar

editor-in-chief of the journal Pancreatology and is

tissue in pancreatic cancer and that there was a

also an active member of the Marathi Association

close communication between PSCs and cancer

of Sydney, a community organisation that serves a

cells. This proved that cancer cells ‘recruit’ normal

large section of Sydney’s Indian diaspora.

pancreatic cells to help the cancer grow and spread to distant parts of the body. The next phase of Professor Apte’s work is to stop PSCs working with normal cells. She |

Professor Apte was described by the Premier as “a highly respected researcher and member of the community [whose] achievements inspire other women to follow in her footsteps”.

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