Rowena E Martin
Dr Rowena Martin is currently a NHMRC R.D. Wright Biomedical Fellow (2013-16) at the Australian National University (ANU). She previously held a NHMRC Australian-based Biomedical Fellowship at the University of Melbourne and the ANU (2009-2012).
Dr Martin has worked on the biology of the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, for over 15 years and has published in a number of high impact journals, including Science, Nature, PNAS, Nature Communications, Blood, Molecular Biology and Evolution, and Genome Biology.
One of her key achievements has been uncovering how small changes in one parasite protein – the ‘chloroquine resistance transporter’ (PfCRT) – cause resistance to the cheap antimalarial drug chloroquine. Mutations in this protein also modulate the parasite’s susceptibility to a number of other clinically important drugs. Dr Martin has established a novel and robust heterologous expression system for the study of PfCRT in Xenopus laevis oocytes (unfertilized frog eggs). Using this system, she was able to provide the first direct evidence that the resistance-conferring form of PfCRT has the ability to transport chloroquine away from its site of action within the parasite, whereas the wild-type protein does not (Martin et al, Science, 2009). Dr Martin’s research group is currently using this system to characterize the transporter’s interaction with other antimalarial drugs, including novel compounds with potent in vitro antiplasmodial activities, in order to understand how the resistance mechanism can be overcome.
Dr Martin has given many presentations to scientific audiences as well as to the general public, including talks at the Australian Museum, The Shine Dome in Canberra, Government House, and the Canberra Museum and Art Gallery. She has also been interviewed for mainstream media such as The Age, The Australian, the ABC (Radio, News Online and Science Online), and Chanel 9 television, as well as ‘popular science’ publications including the Australasian Science magazine and The Helix magazine.
Dr Martin was a recipient of the 2007 Australian Society for Parasitology (ASP) & ARC/NHMRC Parasitology Network Early Career Researcher Award. In 2010 she received a L’Oréal Australia Fellowship For Women In Science, the inaugural Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Early Career Research, and an ACT Young Tall Poppy Science Award.
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