QIMR Berghofer geneticist Dr Tracy O’Mara has been named the Cure Cancer 2020 Researcher of the Year for her work trying to unravel the genetics of ovarian and endometrial cancers and her potential as a future leader in the field.
The Governor General, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), announced Dr O’Mara’s award at a reception held at Admiralty House in Sydney this month.
Dr O’Mara is an early-career researcher with a focus on discovering genetic variants that predispose women to gynaecological cancers.
She leads the Endometrial Cancer Association Consortium, which brings together 14 separate studies from research groups around the world that are working to identify new genetic variants in endometrial cancer.
Funding from Cure Cancer has allowed Dr O’Mara to expand her research and use genetic data from both endometrial and ovarian cancer to investigate similarities between the two diseases.
Dr O’Mara said she was honoured to be Cure Cancer’s 2020 Researcher of the Year.
“The grant from Cure Cancer makes it possible for me to pursue my goals of researching new ways to beat women’s cancers, and to form a solid foundation of work,” Dr O’Mara said.
“I’m passionate about working on cancer because I lost my grandmother to it at a young age.
“To be working on these two significant women’s cancers is particularly worthwhile, and I’m pleased that my research will further our biological understanding of both endometrial and ovarian cancers, and provide a scientific basis to discover potential drug targets for therapy.
“It’s not easy to secure funding as an early-career researcher, but we are the future with a passion for driving change and it’s wonderful that Cure Cancer understands and encourages our passion and talent.”
QIMR Berghofer Acting Director and CEO, Professor David Whiteman AM, said Dr O’Mara was a very worthy recipient.
“This is a great honour for Tracy and testimony to her dedication and exceptional research in the area of women’s cancers,” Professor Whiteman said.
“We’re also proud of QIMR Berghofer’s Dr Kelly Brooks, who works on melanoma of the eye, who’s been included in Cure Cancer’s Class of 2020 Researchers.
“We’re proud to have so many talented young researchers working at the Institute, all focused on improving the future of health in this country.”
The Cure Cancer Australia Researcher of the Year Award recognises the outstanding achievements of early-career researchers and highlights the importance of seed funding within research.
Ovarian and endometrial cancers represent the most lethal and common gynaecological cancers in Australia, with on average 12 females diagnosed with a gynaecological cancer every day, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.