We are proud to announce that the winner of Peter Mac’s prestigious Lea Award for 2020 is Dr Anna Trigos and highly commended to Dr Pilar Dominguez.

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. 

Winner, Dr Anna Trigos

Anna is a Postdoctoral researcher in computational biology. Her research focuses on transcriptomics, genomics and the spatial analysis of the tumour microenvironment.

Anna’s research vision is to develop a career in computational cancer research that has a clear impact on patients, truly bridging the gap between laboratory research, computational biology and the clinic.

Anna is driving her own independent research project: investigating the remodelling of the tumour microenvironment of primary and metastatic disease, specialising in the development of computational algorithms for the spatial analysis of tissues.

Within 1 year of completing her PhD at Peter Mac, Anna was awarded the Joseph Sambrook prize for Research Excellence and was a co-recipient of the Postgraduate Research Medal in 2019. 

While first and senior authorships are rare for computational biologists, Anna’s publication record includes three first author publications, two others to be submitted and one senior author publication in preparation. 

Anna not only demonstrates clear research excellence, but is an avid advocate of the challenges faced by those in computational research, such as funding and gender imbalance. 

Anna also supervises and mentors students and takes part in the Postdoc Leadership group and the Peter Mac Mentoring Program.  Through close collaborations, she has helped the integration of computational methods into experimental labs, and she contributes to multiple bioinformatics education initiatives. Anna also organises fundraising events for Unite To Fight Cancer. 

Anna says that she loves bringing joy to our patients and the wider community by being part of the Staff Christmas Choir and performing songs in the wards and foyers.

Anna will use the funds to complete a 3 month research visit to the University of California, San Francisco and Stanford Universities, extending the scope of her expertise and building collaborative ties with world-leading experts – establishing herself in this field.

Highly-commended, Dr Pilar Dominguez                              

Pilar’s research vision involves establishing her own group dedicated to finding novel biomarkers and developing new personalised treatments for lymphoma. More specifically, her research aims to investigate the mechanisms of action and the translational potential of novel epigenetic therapies for lymphoma patients. 

She is pioneering this line of translational research that she brought to Australia in 2018, after completing her postdoc at Cornell University in the US. 

Pilar is working with clinicians at Peter Mac and Monash Health with the goal of establishing new clinical trials for patients with aggressive lymphomas.

Her many achievements include the publication of 11 papers, with five first-author manuscripts in the last four years in high-impact journals such as Cancer Discovery, Nature Communications and Cell Reports. 

Pilar’s work in establishing TET2 as a tumor suppressor in B-cell lymphomas has led to the design of novel therapies for this disease. Her research was last year awarded one of the competitive grants of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and she has recently signed an agreement with the biotech company OnKure Therapeutics to test their epigenetic drugs in the context of lymphomas.

These achievements highlight Pilar’s rising trajectory in the fields of lymphoma epigenetics and cancer biology – with significant recognition from her peers. 

Like Anna, Pilar has a commitment to supporting other female researchers through her work with the Peter Mac Postdoctoral Society, her role on the committee of the Women in Science of Parkville Precinct (WISPP).

Pilar also mentors and supervisors 10 PhD students, students from a diverse range of backgrounds and assisted with the pilot program ‘Postdoc-to-PI’ at Peter Mac.

The funding from the Lea Medal will help Pilar to complete a leadership training course, attend local and international conferences and publish open access journals.