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UTS Science researcher awarded Ann Woolcock Memorial Award

31 May 2017
Dr Pawan Sharma from the School of Life Sciences at UTS has been awarded the 2017 Ann Woolcock Memorial Award from the Assembly on Respiratory Structure and Function of American Thoracic Society.

Prof Raymond Penn, Dr Pawan Sharma, Prof Andrew Halayko and A/P Deepak Deshpande from the Respiratory Structure and Function Assembly.

The award honours the late Professor Ann Woolcock, an internationally recognised leader in the field of asthma, and founder of the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research where Dr Sharma also conducts his research.

Dr Sharma accepted the award at the American Thoracic Society International Conference in Washington DC, in front of leading respiratory disease researchers, academics and students. There, he was presented with $500 and a plaque.

“Receiving this award means a lot to me,” Dr Sharma said. “Late Professor Ann Woolcock is a founder of my work place the Woolcock Institute.

“Her early work revolutionised the understanding of asthma-disease mechanisms.

“It’s a highly prestigious award for an early career researcher specialising in asthma research so I feel really honoured,” he said.

Dr Sharma is one of 16 outstanding young investigators to have had their scientific achievements and leadership potential recognised with the award. The award criteria include early career accomplishments and future promise; as well as efforts in the broad area of asthma research.

Last month, Dr Sharma and a team of American researchers published findings in Nature Scientific Reports that showed the stimulation of bitter taste receptors relieved features of allergic asthma in mice. The breakthrough has given new hope to the 2.4 million Australians who live with asthma and are looking for more effective and long-term treatment plans.

Dr Sharma said he is now looking forward to synthesising new bitter compounds that could be developed as inhaled therapy for allergic asthma in humans. 

“At this point, we have highly promising data which shows that these compounds work in mouse models of asthma,” he said.

“Our next step is to secure funding needed to take the trial to humans.”