Science graduate receives inaugural Prime Minister's award

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Science graduate receives inaugural Prime Minister's award


Published on 21 December 2012

21 December 2012

A University of the Sunshine Coast Science graduate has received the inaugural Prime Minister’s Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Award to support her world-leading eye research in Germany for two years.

Dr Laura Bray, 24, met Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Governor-General Quentin Bryce and received the $118,000 award at the 2013 Prime Minister’s Australia Awards Presentation Dinner in Canberra on 6 December.

“It’s exciting because this was awarded to only one female researcher in Australia,” said Dr Bray, who is developing a new clinical therapy for patients suffering from painful eye disorders.

“It will allow me to do two years of post-doctoral work at the world-class Leibniz Institute for Polymer Research in Dresden.” She leaves in March next year.

The Bray Park resident was a teenager when she completed her Bachelor of Science at USC in 2007 and is now a medical engineer at the Queensland University of Technology.

She last visited the USC campus in September when she was named the 2012 Outstanding Alumnus (Graduate) of the Year.

“Being able to know my lecturers at USC, and have productive one-on-one time with them, meant that they invested in me personally and gave me a head-start in a successful career,” Dr Bray said.

Ms Gillard said the award was designed to develop recipients into internationally-aware and skilled future leaders.

It recognises Queen Elizabeth II as an enduring leader and will be awarded annually to a researcher contributing to the advancement of women’s leadership in Australia.

Dr Bray’s research aims to improve outcomes for patients with severe injuries to their eye surfaces. There is currently no long-term treatment option worldwide.

Her interest in treating eye injuries started when her brother lost most of his sight in one eye after it was punctured by a nail on a building site.

“I am researching the use of fibroin, a protein found in silk fibres, to repair injuries to the surface of the eye,” Dr Bray said. The protein can be readily isolated from silkworm cocoons.

Julie Schomberg

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