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Monash researchers take out sought-after awards at scientific conference

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4 September 2017

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 Dr Quynh-Nhu Nguyen and Dr Kelly Walton

Not one, not two, but three Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) researchers were recently presented with awards for their outstanding contributions to the fields of reproductive biology and endocrinology

Dr Kelly Walton took out the Newcastle Reproduction Emerging Research Leader Award, Dr Quynh-Nhu Nguyen received the David Healy New Investigator Award, and Dr Ashlee Clark won the Endocrine Society of Australia (ESA) Basic Science Poster Award. Each award was presented at the combined ESA and Society for Reproductive Biology (SRB) Conference held in Perth last week.

Dr Walton was selected as one of three national finalists to compete in an oral presentation session.

Titled Engineering Transforming Growth Factor -β (TGF-β) proteins for the diagnosis and treatment of reproductive disorders, Dr Walton’s talk showcased their TGF-β based therapies which have exciting potential for the treatment of postmenopausal complications and female fertility.

Dr Walton was praised for her research leadership, in particular, her student supervisions, and for the exciting impact evident in her research. She has now been invited to present her research at the University of Queensland.

“It was wonderful to have the opportunity to present our research in this award category, and to receive such positive feedback from leaders in reproductive biology. I am most grateful to the University of Newcastle for sponsoring this award,” Dr Walton said.

Dr Nguyen, a clinician and also a PhD student in the Ovarian Biology Laboratory under the supervision of Dr Karla Hutt, was one of four early career researchers selected from a national pool to compete in the oral presentation session at the conference.

Judges commented that they were extremely impressed the cohesiveness of Dr Nguyen’s story and the strength of the data that supported it. Titled Deciphering the molecular mechanisms underlying oocyte apoptosis during chemotherapy, Dr Nguyen’s research focuses on the role of apoptotic pathways in chemotherapy-induced oocyte death, and the mechanisms by which oocytes die under these circumstances.

The award enables her to travel to the UK to present the SRB Exchange Lecture at Fertility 2018, the combined meeting of the Society for Reproduction and Fertility, Association of Clinical Embryologists, and British Fertility Society, in Liverpool next year.

“It is very gratifying to have my work assessed to be of a high standard by those who really know! I think for people at my stage in a research career, these opportunities to be visible and to share my work are invaluable, and the discussions that come out of giving a talk like this are useful both academically and for making connections,” Dr Nguyen said. 

Dr Ashlee Clark, a research fellow in the Prostate Cancer Research Group under the supervision of Dr Renea Taylor, took out the ESA Basic Science Poster Award with her poster titled “Transcriptome profiling of single prostate cancer cells following androgen deprivation.”