Two young Hunter-based researchers who have made important discoveries about cancer and asthma have had their achievements and passion for their work recognised with a Young Tall Poppy Award.
NHMRC Peter Doherty Fellow Dr Nikki Verrills and Brawn Fellow Dr Lisa Wood, both from the University of Newcastle, are two of 13 scientific achievers aged under 40 to be honoured for their work through the Tall Poppy campaign, an initiative of the Australian Institute of Policy and Science.
Young Tall Poppies are given the opportunity to visit high schools across NSW to discuss their research in the hope of inspiring the next generation to develop a passion for science.
Dr Verrills, a Medical Biochemist, is researching the proteins involved in cancer development and identifying ways to inhibit them. She is part of a team of researchers who have discovered what makes certain leukaemia cells resistant to chemotherapy.
"This award is a fantastic opportunity for me to spread the word to young people that a career in science is exciting and challenging, and can make a real difference to people's lives," Dr Verrills said.
Dr Verrills undertakes her research in the University of Newcastle's School of Biomedical Sciences in collaboration with the Hunter Medical Research Institute's (HMRI) Cancer Research Program.
Dr Wood's research is investigating the dietary factors that influence respiratory diseases, including asthma. She was also recently awarded nearly half a million dollars from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) for a project examining the impact of high fat diets on asthma.
"The Tall Poppy campaign is a great initiative. I am looking forward to talking to high school students about my research, and hopefully inspiring the next generation of budding scientists," Dr Wood said.
Dr Wood is from the University of Newcastle's Priority Research Centre for Asthma and Respiratory Diseases and works in collaboration with HMRI’s Vacccines, Viruses, Immunology and Asthma (VIVA) Research Program.
The Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.