Professor Erica Fletcher wins Nina Kondelos Prize

A prestigious recognition of female neuroscientists for outstanding contributions to basic or clinical neuroscience research.

Professor Erica Fletcher, of the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience and Centre for Stem Cell Systems, has been awarded the Australasian Neuroscience Society’s Nina Kondelos Prize.

The Chair of the School’s Research Committee says she is humbled. “To have my name listed among people I have looked up to for most of my career is really an honour.”

The award was established in memory of Nina Kondelos, the sister of Professor George Paxinos, one of Australia’s most widely recognised neuroscientists.

After joining the School as a teaching and research lecturer in 2003, Prof Fletcher’s advice to young women interested in pursuing a career in neuroscience is to: “Follow your heart and interests. There is really no job better than a scientist, where you can solve new problems every day and do it in manner that gives you a lot of flexibility”.

Prof Fletcher will present a Plenary Lecture at the ANS Conference in Perth in 2020 on her laboratory’s recent work looking at the role of immune cells in the retina.

“Immune cells appear to be very important in how the retina matures and also in fine tuning the vasculature,” she explains. “Vascular function, or blood flow, has to tightly meet the needs of neurons and it seems from our work that immune cells are critical in this function.”

Prof Fletcher says it’s a privilege to undertake biomedical research at Melbourne. “There are very few jobs as rewarding, both in terms of the day-to-day challenges and also the long-term impact on society.”

The award makes it two in a row for the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, as Professor Janet Keast received the Nina Kondelos Prize in 2018. And, before her Professor Sandra Rees collected the honour in 2008.

“This highlights the extraordinary calibre of female neuroscientists at The University of Melbourne, and also the tremendous support that women get to support their research careers,” concludes Prof Fletcher.

Professor Erica Fletcher also became the second woman to receive the H Barry Collin Research Medal in July this year. Read more