A researcher from the Perkins Mitochondrial Medicine and Biology Laboratory has been awarded the top prize for Child Health at the 2018 Raine medical research foundation awards.
Dr Tara Richman was awarded the Bright Spark/Raine Fellow grant, totalling $200,000, for her project which aims to model mitochondria dysfunction in disease.
Dr Richman said she was thrilled to receive the prestigious honour, which will help her continue her important work into mitochondrial dysfunction.
Mitochondria are responsible for converting energy from food into a power source for our body and are essential for the normal function and survival of our cells. When they fail, less and less energy is generated within the cell, which can ultimately lead to cell injury and cell death, causing severe multi-system disorders with no known cure.
“Mitochondrial dysfunction can cause physical, developmental and cognitive symptoms, ranging from mild to severely debilitating,” Dr Richman said.
“While research advancements in this area have led to a better understanding of the causes and progression of mitochondrial disease, there is still much more that we need to uncover to make a positive impact on the lives of people affected."
"I will use a model of mitochondrial disease to investigate how a specific mutation causes onset and progression of a mitochondrial disease with similar symptoms to those experienced in patients with Leigh Syndrome. Increased understanding of the manner of development of mitochondrial disease will help tailor specific treatments for patients with mitochondrial disease mutations."
Mitochondrial Medicine and Biology Head, Professor Aleksandra Filipovska, congratulated Dr Richman for her grant success.
“This award recognises Tara's high calibre of research and her passion for advancing the scientific understanding of mitochondrial disease to benefit the community,” Professor Filipovska said.
Dr Richman has previously received awards including the 2015 James Hopley Student Publication Award, the 2016 Rigby Research Prize and the 2017 UWA Research Collaboration award.
The Raine Foundation distributed in excess of $2.1M in research funding for the 2018 round, with the research committee acknowledging the excellent work being conducted by Western Australia researchers.