17 October 2012

Two University of Queensland researchers have been awarded a $75,000 Ramaciotti Foundations’ grant at a gala dinner last night in Brisbane.

Dr Lata Vadlamudi from the School of Medicine and Dr Irina Vetter from the Institute of Molecular Bioscience were recognised for their outstanding biomedical research.

UQ’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Max Lu congratulated Dr Vadlamudi and Dr Vetter on their awards.

“We are very proud of Lata's and Irina’s achievements in the Ramaciotti Foundations’ awards,” Professor Lu said.

“These are a great reflection of the exceptional research in biomedical sciences taking place at the University,” he said.

Dr Lata Vadlamudi said she would use the grant to further her research into the genetics of epilepsy.

“Questions I’m most frequently asked by my patients are, what caused them to have epilepsy, and how can it be cured?,” Dr Vadlamudi said.

“Currently, we know that there is a genetic propensity for epilepsy, and while studies in the last decade or two have identified single genes that can cause epilepsy, these only occur very rarely, and the majority of patients we see have a more complex inheritance pattern,” she said.

“There is still much to be learnt and the research funding will allow us to study identical and non-identical twins in order to further understand the genetic causes of epilepsy.”

Dr Irina Vetter’s research aims to understand the fundamental molecular basis of sensory perception.

“Although we are all intimately familiar with our abilities to sense touch, vibration, heat, cold and pain, very little is known about the genetic identity of the different neurons that make these senses work,” Dr Vetter said.

“My research will not only increase our understanding of the sensory system at the molecular level, but also provide vital information on the pathways and molecules involved when something goes wrong,” she said.

“This will have important implications for many diseases involving dysfunctional sensory neurons, such as painful diabetic neuropathy and cancer-induced pain.”

Former grant recipient and UQ researcher Professor Ian Frazer said this year’s recipients reflected the quality of biomedical research being undertaken in the Queensland.

“The work of Dr Vadlamudi and Dr Vetter, and of many others in the State, is invaluable and will benefit many Australians suffering from debilitating diseases,” Professor Frazer said.

Each year the Ramaciotti Foundations, managed by Perpetual, support biomedical research through significant distributions via the Ramaciotti Awards, providing assistance to areas of research such as molecular biology, genetics and immunology, and assisting young researchers taking up new challenges in biomedical research.

For more information about the Ramaciotti Foundations visit http://www.perpetual.com.au/ramaciotti

Media: Caroline Bird, UQ Communications, 07 3365 1931 or c.bird1@uq.edu.au or Clementine Stuart-Russell, Buchan Consulting, 02 9237 2808 or cstuartrussell@buchanwe.com.au