Mary-Jane Gething legacy enabling greater opportunities for female scientists

Congratulations to the recipients of the latest MJ Gething Gender Equity Awards.

Launched in 2019, the MJ Gething Gender Equity Award supports young researchers working in the biomedical sciences, with a focus on promoting gender equality and opportunities for female scientists.

The grant's latest recipients, Dr Natalie Thomas, Dr Sidonia Eckle and Dr Meina Li, join a long list of early career researchers, with significant caring responsibilities, who have benefited from this award to support their research profile and maintain momentum.

We acknowledge the award benefactor, Prof Mary-Jane Gething OA, her outstanding contribution to biochemistry and modecular biology, and for championing gender equity in the establishment of this award.

Dr Natalie Thomas, Dept of Biochemistry & Pharmacology

To help fund a visit to Prof. Jonas Bergquist’s Laboratory, Uppsala University Sweden, to master a specialised technique of Ultra-Performance Supercritical Fluid Chromotography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry (UPSFC-MS/MS); enabling Natalie to travel with her daughter and partner.

“My STEMM role model is May-Britt Moser, a neuroscientist who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2014 for her discovery of grid cells in the brain, which are crucial for understanding spatial navigation. Her innovative work has revolutionised our understanding of how the brain maps environments".

"As a mother, she inspires by demonstrating it's possible to achieve extraordinary scientific accomplishments while raising a family. Her ability to balance a high-profile scientific career with her personal life motivates me to pursue my passions relentlessly, showing that dedication and hard work can lead to remarkable achievements".

Dr Natalie Thomas is head Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) and Long Covid Neuroendocrine Research Program. Her research focus explores the intersection of neuroendocrine research and biomarker studies. Her translational work aims to develop lab-based peripheral diagnostic, prognostic, and treatment response biomarkers in neurological conditions and chronic diseases, with a specific focus on steroid hormones. Her work aims to improve our understanding of the role steroids have in metabolism, neurological, and immunological processes and elucidate sex / gender-based differences.

Image: Natalie and family

Dr Sidonia Eckle, Dept of Microbiology & Immunology

To help fund participation (and co-chairing) of the biennial international CD1-MR1 conference in Hobart; enabling Sidonia to travel with her two kids and partner.

“With the support of the MJ Gething award, I was able to maximise my professional involvement in the conference, both as co-chair and scientifically. Having been able to engage with the scientific community and form new collaborations has been of immense value to my ongoing research. The recognition in the form of this award has no doubt contributed to my recent award of an NHMRC Investigator Grant”.

Dr Sidonia Eckle is a group leader and NHMRC Emerging Leadership Fellow at the Peter Doherty Institute, doing fundamental discovery research in the area of immunology. Her particular focus is a family of unconventional white blood cells, called MAIT cells, she is studying their role in protection from infectious diseases, such as malaria, as well as in allergic reactions. Her long-term vision is to harness MAIT cells for vaccines and therapies.

Image: Sidonia and family on a day trip to Maria Island (on the weekend after the conference)

Dr Meina Li, Dept of Biochemistry & Pharmacology

To help fund Miena’s attendance at international conferences; enabling her to travel with her kids and a companion.

“I was inspired by my own mum. She taught me how to be an independent woman raising four children while managing to balance life and work”.

Dr Meina Li is a post-doctoral fellow in the Dept of Biochemistry & Pharmacology. Her current research interests focus on investigating the circadian control of casein kinase 1delta activity in combating fibrotic lung damage, which might prompt new chronotherapeutic strategies for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Image: Meina and family

Learn more about the MJ Gething Gender Equity Award -