Professor Maria Kavallaris appointed to NHMRC Research Committee
August 25, 2015
The CEO of the NHMRC Professor Anne Kelso, today announced the appointment of Professor Maria Kavallaris, Head of the Tumour Biology & Targeting Program at Children's Cancer Institute, to the Research Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
The Research Committee is an influential body that guides the Council’s policy and expenditure, and advises on the quality and scope of medical and public health research in Australia.
Members of the Committee are distinguished members of the research community who have demonstrated leadership and extensive experience in their respective fields. In addition to her role at Children’s Cancer Institute, Professor Kavallaris is Director of the Australian Centre for NanoMedicine and Chief Investigator ARC Centre of Excellence in Bio-Nano Science at UNSW Australia. She also serves on the Board of the Australian Institute of Policy and Science, and has held many advocacy roles in the past, such as President of the Australian Society for Medical Research. In 2014, NHMRC recognised her as an Australian ‘high achiever’ in health and medical research.
“It’s a great honour to be appointed to the NHMRC Research Committee because it gives you a voice in a forum that is important for health and medical research, and puts you in a position to influence funding policy,” said Professor Kavallaris.
“It’s very important that we identify opportunities for the sector as they arise, and ensure that health and medical research has strong representation where and when it most counts.”
Kavallaris is a cancer biologist who is fascinated by the emerging possibilities in cancer diagnostics and therapeutics. She is interested in the application of nanotechnology to medicine, particularly cancer, and is pursuing the development of diagnostic devices and systems for the targeted delivery of drugs to tumours.
Currently exploring an imaginative range of anti-cancer strategies, Kavallaris is particularly interested in those that reduce the toxic effect of chemotherapy drugs. Her research goals include: circumventing ways in which cancer cells change their molecular make-up to resist drugs; blocking the formation of the new networks of blood vessels that tumours create, so starving them of nutrients; finding ways of preventing cell division, so preventing tumours from growing and spreading; and blocking the communication networks that cancer cells use to grow and spread.
Professor Kavallaris has received many awards and prizes in the course of her career, among them the Brigid Leventhal Women in Cancer Research Award, a Young Tall Poppy Award and an Australian Museum Eureka Prize.
About Children’s Cancer Institute
Originally founded by two fathers of children with cancer in 1976, Children’s Cancer Institute is the only independent medical research institute in Australia wholly dedicated to research into the causes, prevention and cure of childhood cancer. Forty years on, our vision remains unchanged – to save the lives of all children with cancer and to eliminate their suffering. The Institute has grown to now employ more than 220 researchers, operational staff and students, and has established a national and international reputation for scientific excellence.
Our focus is on translational research, and we have an integrated team of laboratory researchers and clinician scientists who work together in partnership to discover new treatments which can be progressed from the lab bench to the beds of children on wards in our hospitals as quickly as possible. These new treatments are specifically targeting childhood cancers, so we can develop safer and more effective drugs and drug combinations that will minimise side-effects and ultimately give children with cancer the best chance of a cure with the highest possible quality of life.
We are currently leading the establishment of the Zero Childhood Cancer national child cancer personalised medicine program for children with the most aggressive cancers, in partnership with the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network. This program will revolutionise the way treatment decisions are made, with the aim of improving survivorship for those children at highest risk of treatment failure from their disease.