QIMR Berghofer Associate Professor Tracy O’Mara has been recognised for her contribution to science with a Young Tall Poppy Scientist Award.
Announced by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science on Monday night, the Tall Poppy Science Awards recognise commitment to communicating science and its importance to the community.
The highly coveted Awards are widely considered to be an early indicator of Australia’s future scientific leaders, identifying excellent early career scientists.
A/Prof Tracy O’Mara leads the Endometrial Cancer Association Consortium, an international consortium of endometrial cancer researchers that performs genetic analyses using data from over 12,000 endometrial cancer patients. Her multi-disciplinary research falls under three main themes for endometrial cancer: prevention, prediction and treatment.
“I feel very honoured to be the recipient of The Queensland Young Tall Poppy Scientist Award this year. I hope my research can contribute to the understanding of this cancer and help the many people who are affected, both the patients and their families,” Associate Professor O’Mara said.
Endometrial cancer (cancer of the uterine lining) is the most commonly diagnosed gynaecological cancer in developed countries, including Australia, and its incidence is rapidly increasing.
“My research vision is to improve women’s health by applying large-scale endometrial cancer genetic datasets to identify women at increased risk of endometrial cancer and assess potential preventative treatments,” she said.
Endometrial cancer is relatively under-researched compared to other cancers despite an increase in the number of diagnoses each year. There are limited treatment options with just five drugs approved for treatment by the Federal Drug Administration (USA), and only three since 1971.
Unlike many cancer types, endometrial cancer-specific mortality has increased approximately two percent each year since 2008, in part due to its increased incidence.
To address this, A/Prof O’Mara is using genetics to identify new effective drug treatments. In particular, she is focusing on drugs that are already in use for other diseases and could be ‘repurposed’ for endometrial cancer, thus shortening drug development timelines.
The Tall Poppy Campaign was established in 1998 by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS) to promote public awareness of Australia’s intellectual achievements.