[ASC-media] Media Release

Samantha Lucia lucias at hri.org.au
Thu May 13 16:58:59 EST 2004

Heart Research Institute

Australia¹s hearty hero awarded overseas
For immediate release Friday 14 March 2004
We all pin our hopes of overcoming life threatening disease on a handful of
committed and exceptionally talented medical scientists. In the case of
heart disease, there is no finer example than the dedicated team at the
Heart Research Institute.
This was confirmed last week in Argentina, when HRI¹s hero, Rachael Dunlop
was honoured with a Young Investigator Award, for her scientific research on
the early detection and prevention of heart disease.
³Heart disease isn¹t something that only affects the old, it causes 40% of
all deaths in Australia each year,² Ms Dunlop, PhD student at HRI said. ³We
work hard to make sure that people have the best chance of overcoming this
life threatening disease.²
Rachael is part of the committed HRI team, made up of medical researchers
and clinicians who work tirelessly to prevent, diagnose and reverse heart
Rachael was the only Australian presented with an award at this year¹s
International Free Radical Research Conference, in Buenos Aires. She was
recognised for her innovative research into the chemical reactions that take
place in heart disease and other diseases, including Alzheimer¹s and
Parkinson¹s disease.
³The early stages of heart disease can begin in the very young. By the time
we¹re 12 years old, the minute chemical reactions that take place deep in
our tissues and cells, can begin to kick-start heart disease.²
It¹s these unseen processes that the Cell Biology Group at the Heart
Research Institute is concerned with, in particular the metabolism of
damaged proteins. 
³Proteins make up a large proportion of our major tissues and are crucial
for our health, but they can become damaged by oxygen-derived free
radicals,² Ms Dunlop explained. ³Once damaged, these proteins are usually
removed by cells through a chemical pathway²
³However, in heart disease the pathway which is normally used to remove the
damaged proteins is impaired. Too many damaged proteins accumulate,
contributing to the early stages of plaque build up in arteries, which can
lead to heart attack, stoke and death.²
Rachel¹s award was based on her research into an alternative pathway which
could be used to remove damaged proteins.  ³If this alternative is
successful, we may have discovered a new way to prevent the onset of heart
disease in people most at risk.²
This could lead to preventative medication being developed to thwart the
onset of heart disease in the future.
Rachael¹s award coincides with National Medical Laboratory Science Week
which recognises and celebrates the work of medical researchers, organised
by Australian Institute of Medical Scientists.

For more information or interview and image opportunities, please contact:

Samantha Lucia ­ Communications Officer ­ Heart Research Institute

Phone: 61 2 9550 3560    Mobile: 0407 909 102     Email: media at hri.org.au


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