University researchers named Tall Poppies

October 10 / 46

Two University researchers have won Victorian Young Tall Poppy Science Awards.

Established in 1997 by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science, the Young Tall Poppy Science Awards recognise the achievements of outstanding young researchers in the sciences, including technology, engineering, mathematics and medical research.

Dr Natalie Hannan from the Department of Zoology was named a Tall Poppy for her pregnancy research, which focused on the poorly understood interaction between embryos and the lining of the womb.

Dr Hannan’s research into better understanding this relationship is set to increase the success of  in-vitro fertilisation (IVF): approximately three quarters of IVF attempts fail, the embryo does not  implant  into the mother’s uterus.

She said she was honoured to have received the award, adding, "It means a lot to have my work and community engagement recognised by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science."

Dr Angus Johnston from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering won the award for his research into increasing the efficiency of delivering drugs to correct areas of the body.

Many diseases, including cancer, are not effectively treated because the drugs are not delivered efficiently to the correct area of the body.

Dr Johnston’s research focuses on drug-loaded capsules - which are less than one hundredth the width of a human hair – which flow around the body to successfully seek out targets such as cancer cells.

The capsules protect the drug from degradation by the body, and the body from any potentially harmful side effects of the drug.

One of Dr Johnston’s particular research interests is understanding how these capsules interact with cancer cells, which is critically important for effective treatment of the disease.

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