We are proud to announce on International Women's Day that the winner of Peter Mac’s prestigious Lea Award for 2019 is Dr Laura Forrest and highly commended to Dr Elizabeth Christie.

The Lea Medal is a prestigious award to recognise and promote emerging female research leaders in their early to mid-career and provides $40,000 in financial support to enable opportunities for career advancement.

Named after the Latin word for “Lioness” and instituted by Chief Executive Dale Fisher in 2017, the award seeks to address the disparity in women holding mid-to-senior positions in research.

The Lea Medal Award is generously funded by the Peter MacCallum Cancer Foundation. 

Dr Laura Forrest and her research team
Dr Laura Forrest and her research team

Dr Laura Forrest (pictured above with her research team) is a postdoctoral fellow and the lead researcher in the Psychosocial Cancer Genetics Research Group based in the Parkville Familial Cancer Centre. Laura’s research gives voice to, and examines, individuals’ experiences of managing significant cancer risks due to inherited genetic information to identify unmet psychosocial needs. 

Together with her team, Laura also evaluates new models of genetic counselling, providing translational evidence to inform clinical cancer genetics practice.

The primary goal of Laura’s research is to ensure individuals and their families are empowered to make informed decisions about cancer-causing genetic information and engage with cancer risk management strategies to prevent cancer.

Inherited genomic information is increasingly being identified through rapid technological advances. 

With this identification comes great responsibility to ensure patients understand the health implications so they can make informed decisions about managing their cancer risks. However, the identification of genomic information reaches further than just the patient. Family members, including children, may have also inherited this information. Laura’s research seeks to examine the personal and familial implications of genomic information to generate evidence that can be used to inform clinical practice, ensuring it is patient-centred.

Laura will use the award to attend conferences in Australia and overseas. She will also support her team to attend a conference to boost their professional development and she will increase her research capacity by employing an assistant.

Dr Elizabeth Christie accepting her highly commended Lea Medal Award

Dr Elizabeth Christie (pictured above accepting her highly commended Lea Award) is a senior postdoctoral scientist in the Cancer Genetics and Genomics Program.

She has received a number of grants including a VCA Early Career Seed Grant, and she received the NBCF Joseph F Sambrook Prize for Research Excellence at the National Family Cancer Clinics/kConFab meeting in 2018. Liz aspires to become an independent researcher at Peter Mac. 

Her research focuses on understanding the mechanisms of acquired drug resistance in ovarian cancer and developing strategies for translation into the clinic to overcome resistance.  Liz will use the Lea Medal funds to attend an international conference and a training workshop. Congratulations, Liz.