Rising-star researchers earn honour

Anita Dunbier
Anita Dunbier
A researcher investigating ways to improve breast cancer therapy is among five up-and-coming University of Otago academics given an ''early-career'' award.

The recipients of this year's ''Early Career Awards for Distinction in Research'' have been recognised for research spanning breast cancer genetics, new anti-cancer nano-medicines, testicular cancer rates, genetic factors underlying heart disease and using mathematical techniques to tackle philosophical problems.

Department of biochemistry senior lecturer Dr Anita Dunbier, who is investigating ways of improving responses to breast cancer therapy, said she was ''honoured'' to receive the award.

Her research aimed to identify which breast cancer patients were at risk of having their cancer recur after surgery and to develop better treatments for these patients.

She was about to start a clinical trial, funded by $199,583 in Health Research Council funding, looking at the affect of combining aspirin with standard anti-hormone therapy for women diagnosed with oestrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer.

Richard Blaikie
Richard Blaikie
It was hoped this would lead to better treatment, as aspirin reduced inflammation.

''We have previously proven that inflammation helps the tumours grow,'' Dr Dunbier said.

Deputy vice-chancellor Prof Richard Blaikie congratulated the five researchers on their impressive records of achievement at such an early stage of their research careers.

''These award recipients are exemplary early-career researchers making energetic and fresh contributions to the university's research effort and culture.

''Their notable achievements firmly place them to become Otago's research leaders of tomorrow,'' Prof Blaikie said.

Each award winner receives a $5000 grant to use for research and scholarly development, and becomes a member of the university's O-Zone group of early-to-mid-career researchers.

The other recipients were: Dr Khaled Greish (pharmacology and toxicology), Dr Jason Gurney (public health, Wellington), Dr Anna Pilbrow (medicine, Christchurch) and Dr Zach Weber (philosophy).

- vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz