Maria Kavallaris
Image Credit: WomenNSW

Professor Maria Kavallaris, a leading childhood cancer researcher and a pioneer of nanomedicine in Australia, is the 2020 NSW Premier’s Woman of the Year.

Professor Kavallaris, the founding director of the Australian Centre for NanoMedicine at the University of New South Wales, received the top honour award at a ceremony in Sydney on Thursday.

“I am truly honoured to have received this award and I hope it inspires young women to do what they love, grow and learn, and to lead with generosity and respect,” Professor Kavallaris said.

In an offical statement, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said that “Maria is a remarkable achiever whose ground-breaking research has led to more effective therapies for aggressive childhood cancers.”

Another six women from across NSW were honoured in categories including community hero, lifetime achievement and businesswoman of the year. These women and their accomplishments make them a strong role model for other women.

Professor Kavallaris is internationally renowned for her research in cancer biology and therapeutics.

She has been widely recognised for the innovation and impact of her research, her leadership as well as her mentoring of talented young scientists.

Her personal journey with cancer began at the age of 21 and has driven her research to develop effective and less toxic cancer treatments.

As one of the original three scientists appointed at the Children’s Cancer Institute when its laboratories first opened in 1984, she has made important discoveries in relation to the mechanisms of clinical drug resistance and tumour aggressiveness in childhood cancer.

“To be able to make a difference to the lives of children with cancer and their families by developing better treatments and improving survival rates is very humbling. Even if you can save one child’s life, that’s an incredible feat,” Professor Kavallaris said.