7th July 2014

Research on the genetic biomarkers of prostate cancer aimed at improving early diagnosis of the cancer to enable targeted treatment, has won QUT geneticist Dr Jyotsna Batra a top Indian award.

Dr Batra, from QUT's IHBI (Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation), is one of only 30 recipients of the 2014 Mahatma Gandhi Pravasi Samman award, given to people of Indian origin living in other countries to help further their education or careers.

Dr Batra, who is based at Brisbane's Translational Research Institute (TRI) at Princess Alexandra Hospital, leads the functional genomics research that focuses on cancer diagnosis and treatment.

"My work aims to make better biomarkers to identify men who are predisposed to develop prostate cancer by finding the genetic factors responsible for causing the cancer," Dr Batra said.

"Identifying these diagnostic markers should also help us to distinguish slowly progressive prostate cancer from the aggressive form of the disease and lead to the development of new therapeutics.

"It's important to understand the underlying genetics so doctors have the best chance of diagnosing cancer early and treating when a patient's survival rate is high.

"The more advanced the cancer when treatment starts, the more challenging it is for doctors, the harder on patients and the greater the strain on the health service."

Dr Batra's work has secured a National Health and Medical Research Council project grant and Peter Doherty Fellowship as well as Cancer Australia Priority-driven Collaborative Cancer Research Scheme funding.

She moved to Brisbane to take up a postdoctoral fellowship at IHBI five years ago because of Brisbane's strong medical research capacity and infrastructure and the Institute's multidisciplinary and collaborative approach.

"The fellowship enabled me to come to Australia and start my career. I have adjusted well in the new research environment and now successfully lead my own research group," she said.

"I have been mentored by Distinguished Prof Judith Clements, whose support has been instrumental for me to receive this award.

"I am delighted my contribution to science is recognised in my country of origin, India. I feel privileged and honoured to be among 30 Indians who have been recognised."

Dr Batra collaborates with Dr Sharmila Bapat at the National Centre for Cell Science in Pune, India using an Australia-India Strategic Research Fund grant, and with Dr Sunita Saxena at the National Institute of Pathology in Delhi.

Dr Batra received the award from Puducherry Governor Virendra Kataria, on behalf of Indian President Pranab Mukherjee.

Related article:
DNA research identifies genetic risks for prostate, breast and ovarian cancers
New prostate cancer treatments to be fast-tracked

Media contact: Niki Widdowson, 07 3138 2999 or n.widdowson@qut.edu.au.

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