Breast cancer research leads to Young Investigator Award

Winner of the 2012 WCH Foundation Young Investigator of the Year Award and People’s Choice Award, University of Adelaide PhD student Natasha McInnes.
Photo by Kimberley Gifford Photography.

Winner of the 2012 WCH Foundation Young Investigator of the Year Award and People's Choice Award, University of Adelaide PhD student Natasha McInnes.
Photo by Kimberley Gifford Photography.

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Thursday, 25 October 2012

A University of Adelaide researcher has won the 2012 WCH Foundation Young Investigator of the Year Award and People's Choice Award, presented last night at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.

Natasha McInnes, a PhD student in the University of Adelaide's School of Paediatrics and Reproductive Health, based at the Women's and Children's Hospital, has found a gene that fights breast cancer and helps to keep cells healthy.

Ms McInnes has worked out how the gene can be turned off. Now she has to find a way to turn it back on.

The research promises to "restore the breast cancer cells, turn them back into healthy cells or cause them to die (before they multiply and spread)".

"It's very interesting to look at what is actually controlling those genes and what happens when a normal cell turns into a breast cancer cell, because obviously those good genes are getting switched off," she says.

"If we can track what's happening in those early stages, it really gives us a better understanding of why breast cancer develops."

Ms McInnes says a new type of treatment is still a fair while down the track but results to date are very exciting.

The WCH Foundation Young Investigator Award, now in its 13th year, rewards excellence in South Australia's young researchers in both science and their ability to communicate and 'sell' that science.

As winner of the award, Natasha received the major prize of $5000. She was also awarded the People's Choice Award prize of $1000.

Runners up included University of Adelaide Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Michael O'Callaghan and former PhD student Dr Kristie Lee.

The WCH Foundation Young Investigator Award is an initiative of the Women's and Children's Health Network in partnership with the University of Adelaide, Flinders University, University of South Australia and Women's and Children's Health Research Institute. The Women's & Children's Hospital Foundation is major sponsor of the award.

 

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