16 November 2010

Watching relatives battling cancer is driving Forest Lake chemical engineer Chunxia Zhao to complete research into better ways to deliver life-saving drugs.

Dr Zhao is working at UQ's Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology to develop nanoporous materials which will help with targeted drug delivery.

The 31-year-old has had a boost in her quest, claiming an ARC Fellowship worth $315,000.

Australian Postdoctoral Research Fellowships aim to nurture the talents of Australia's most promising early-career researchers.

“I have very close relatives who have breast cancer and very serious diseases,” Dr Zhao said. “It gives me motivation. It encourages me to do these things.

“More and more people are suffering from different kinds of cancers. I want to do my job – and maybe in the future it will help cancer patients.”

Dr Zhao is working to turn soft emulsion materials into nano-porous solids that will help ensure cancer drugs are carried to an affected area, such as a tumour.

Such targeted drug delivery aims to reduce the seriousness of side effects inherent in broad-spectrum cancer treatments.

But the nano-porous materials will do more than just help with targeted drug delivery, crossing into photocatalysis for sustainable clean energy.

Dr Zhao has been working at the AIBN for almost three years, after completing her PhD at Zhejiang University in China.

Her fellowship will provide financial support for research for the next three years.

“I expect this fellowship will allow me to further explore and move towards commercialisation.

“It will also provide me the opportunity to build collaboration with other researchers, nationally and internationally.”

Australian Postdoctoral Fellowships are for early-career researchers to undertake research of national and international significance and to broaden their research experience.

Media: Erik de Wit (0427 281 466)