2007 ASBMB Award: Victoria Lewis
Department of Pathology, University of Melbourne
Victoria Lewis finished her Biological Sciences degree at La Trobe University at the end of 1999, and knew then that she wanted a career in medical science-based research. Her first job was as a research assistant for the Australian National Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Registry (ANCJDR), based in the Department of Pathology at the University of Melbourne. ANCJDR is responsible for monitoring in Australia all forms of human prion diseases, a group of neurodegenerative diseases with no known effective treatments or cure. With ANCJDR, Victoria was involved in running a variety of diagnostic tests offered to patients Australia-wide and overseas, as well as a number of collaborative research projects. During this time, she developed an interest in this family of diseases, and a keen desire to further her research, so after almost four years of full-time employment, Victoria decided to take the plunge and start a PhD in this field. Her PhD, based in the Department of Pathology, is supervised by Associate Professor Steve Collins, and co-supervised by Dr Andrew Hill and Dr Vicki Lawson, and is aimed at determining what cellular factors may influence susceptibility to prion diseases, as the exact nature of their pathogenesis and transmissibility is not yet understood. Using cell culture-based models of prion disease, Victoria has investigated whether factors such as proteasome function, endogenous prion protein processing and subcellular localisation influence susceptibility to infection and transmissibility or propagation of the infectious prion. Victoria will use her ASBMB Fellowship to attend Prion2007 in Scotland in September, providing her with the chance to present her work, receive feedback and take advantage of networking opportunities with the international scientific research community.