Melbourne: A 56-year-old Indian pancreatic cancer researcher in Australia has been named New South Wales Woman of the year 2015 for her contributions to medical research, tertiary education and the Indian community.
Minoti Apate, researcher at University of New South Wales (UNSW) received the award from NSW Premier Mike Baird and Minister for Women Pru Goward during a reception at NSW Parliament House recently.
“Alongside her impressive career successes, Apte is an active member of the Marathi Association of Sydney, an organisation that serves Sydney’s significant Indian population,” said Premier Baird, adding that her achievements inspire other women to follow in her footsteps.
“In winning the award I’d like to acknowledge the wonderful support of members of the Pancreatic Research Group, my current PhD students Zhihong Xu and Sri Pothula and my mentors Professor Jeremy Wilson and Professor Ron Pirola,” she said.
Apte, Professor of Medicine at the South Western Sydney Clinical School of the University of New South Wales, last year, was awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for her services to medical research, tertiary education and the Indian Community. “Inequality and disadvantage for women returning to work remains a big problem in Australia and more work needs to be done in this area.
“UNSW is leading the way when it comes to family-friendly workplace arrangements and supporting women who want to balance family with pursuing a career in science, academia or medical research,” she said. Based at Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research, she is director of the Pancreatic Research Group and is an acknowledged world-leader in alcohol-induced pancreatic injury and pancreatic cancer.
She investigates pancreatic cancer at a cellular level to find out how and why the cancer is so aggressive and spreads so quickly. Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly cancers with a five-year survival rate of just 6 per cent.
She was the first in the world to develop a method to isolate pancreatic stellate cells, a technique which provided a much needed research tool for studying the path that pancreatic fibrosis (scarring of the pancreas) takes.
She is currently leading pre-clinical studies that are primed to suggest new treatments for pancreatic cancer – the fifth leading cause of all cancer deaths in Australia.