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CSIR Biosciences student scoops top science award

Luara Millroy, a student researcher with the CSIR Biosciences

Laura Millroy, CSIR Biosciences doctoral student, received the 2012 Biotech Fundi Research Award for research in Molecular Medicine during the Gauteng’s Biotech Excellence Awards held at The Innovation Hub in Pretoria on 16 February 2012. She was presented with certificate and trophy as well as a R10 000 cheque in recognition for her efforts.

Laura had this to say about winning the award: “I am still rather surprised that I won as I expected the award to go to a more advanced scientist. I am very grateful for the award and very proud to have been recognised.”

The award is aimed at recognising and rewarding a young researcher in either the public or private sector whose cutting-edge research will improve, grow and develop the biotech capacity in Gauteng through the application of his/her knowledge or through product development and service delivery.

“I first heard about the awards when I attended the event in 2009 while I was doing my Master’s degree. I had been invited because my studies were funded by the Gauteng Department of Agriculture Conservation and Environment. I had forgotten about the awards until I saw the poster hanging on our business unit’s tearoom door. I had thought about entering and had a look at the awards website, but thought it was for people more advanced than myself. When I spoke to one of my colleagues about the awards, he convinced me to enter and so I did,” says Laura.

Laura beat four other finalists to win the award. “It is always nice to be recognised for the work that you do and without entering for awards, how will anyone know what they have achieved? It is important for external people to see the CSIR winning awards so that they see that their tax money has been put to good use. There is a lot of great work being done at the CSIR and I think that we should all endeavour to make sure that everyone knows about it,” Laura remarks.

Laura is currently registered for a PhD in molecular medicine with Wits University and her project at CSIR Biosciences is looking into developing a new antiretroviral therapy for HIV-positive patients. “More technically speaking, I am making Aptamer siRNA chimeras that could potentially act as a prophylaxis against new HIV infection and clear existing infection,” she concludes.

News contributed by Sibusiso Ralarala, Marketing & Communications Manager, CSIR Biosciences

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