Walter and Eliza Hall Institute breast cancer researcher Professor Jane Visavader has been selected to become a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.
The fellowship recognises Professor Visvader's research over the past decade that has identified the rare 'breast stem cells' that can give rise to all types of cells in the breast, and for determining the cells from which different types of breast cancer arise.
Professor Visvader, who jointly heads the institute's ACRF Stem Cells and Cancer division with Professor Geoff Lindeman, said she was humbled to be one of 21 Australian scientists to join the academy this year. "This recognition reflects a team effort between a wonderful group of scientists over many years," she said. "In particular, I would like to acknowledge the important contribution of my close collaborator Geoff Lindeman. I am also indebted to Professors Doug Hilton, Jerry Adams and Suzanne Cory for their tremendous support and acumen.
"The academy plays a pivotal role in setting national science policy and science education programs, as well as in establishing key international linkages to advance Australian research and its global contribution. I look forward to being a part of these efforts."
Professor Suzanne Cory, president of the academy and former director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, said the identification of the breast stem cell by Professor Visvader and her team was one of the most significant advances in breast cancer research in the past decade. "Her achievements have inspired a new cadre of young leaders in the field of stem cells and cancer, creating a momentum that has the potential to improve the lives of Australians," Professor Cory said.
Professor Andreas Strasser and Professor Jerry Adams, who jointly head the institute's Molecular Genetics of Cancer division and are long-time colleagues of Professor Visvader, expressed their delight at the academy's recognition of her outstanding achievements.
"This is a well-deserved award for the remarkable work that Professor Visvader, Professor Lindeman and their excellent team have done to identify breast stem cells," Professor Strasser said. "Their studies have provided important insights into how breast cancer can develop from genetic mutations in breast stem cells and their progeny."
Professor Adams said the isolation of breast stem cells created intense excitement for many scientists. "This discovery not only electrified all the scientists studying how the breast and other organs develop, but also provided important insights for those scientists exploring the amazing ability of stem cells to generate diverse progeny cells," he said.
"Professor Visvader and her remarkable team, jointly led by Professor Geoff Lindeman, have gone on to define the full genealogy of cells in the breast, and to clarify which of those cells gives rise to different types of breast cancer," Professor Adams said. "These achievements have significantly advanced the field of breast cancer research, and the impact of Professor Visvader's research will be seen for many years to come."