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Australian researcher becomes first woman honoured with special lifetime achievement award

Health & Medical

An Australian scientist specialising in the effect of dietary fats on the health of babies has become the first woman presented with a special lifetime achievement award in the field of fatty acids and lipids.

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Professor Maria Makrides was awarded the prestigious Alexander Leaf Distinguished Scientist Award for Lifetime Achievement at the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (ISSFAL) Congress held in Las Vegas from May 27-31.

Based in Adelaide, South Australia, Professor Makrides is the Healthy Mothers, Babies and Children Theme Leader at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute’s (SAHMRI) and the Professor of Human Nutrition at the University of Adelaide.

Professor Makrides addressed the ISSFAL congress on May 31 with a presentation titled “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Great Women Role Models of my Career”.

Her work evaluating the effect of different dietary fats during pregnancy and infancy on the growth, health and development of babies has set new standards internationally for the conduct of nutrition intervention studies with young families.

It has also had an important influence on recommendations guiding the intake of dietary fatty acids in pregnancy, lactation and infancy.

Professor Makrides is the eighth recipient of the award, which has been presented every two years since 2002, and its first female winner.

She said she was delighted to receive this recognition at ISSFAL 2018.

“I feel incredibly humbled to be in such excellent company of past recipients. There are so many potential worthy scientists in our field,” Professor Makrides said.

“I am fortunate to have worked with teams of fantastic researchers, clinicians and clinical and research staff across my career. We have a diverse and vibrant team, which is largely based at the (Adelaide) Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

“This diversity and the fact that we are embedded in the health services has facilitated our ability to make impactful contributions, and to translate discovery into health impact for mothers and their babies.”

SAHMRI is part of the A$3 billion Adelaide BioMed City, one of the largest life sciences clusters in the Southern Hemisphere, and is focused on seven research themes including Cancer, Heart Health, Infection and Immunity and Aboriginal Health.

A second building, known as SAHMRI 2 will house Australia’s and the Southern Hemisphere’s first Proton Therapy Unit and a further 400 researchers from 2020.

ISSFAL’s more than 500 members from over 40 countries include scientists, medical professionals, educators, administrators, communicators and others with an interest in the health effects of dietary fats, oils and lipids.

The Alexander Leaf Distinguished Scientist Award for Lifetime Achievement was established by the ISSFAL in 2002, both to honour the work of Dr Alexander Leaf and his support for ISSFAL, and to create an award for future use to recognise and reward excellence in the areas of research of relevance to ISSFAL core interests.

It is awarded every two years to an individual who, in the opinion of the judges, has made a significant and sustained contribution to the science of lipids and health.

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