Future leader in cancer research wins Picchi Award

24 October 2017
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute PhD student Ms Rebecca Delconte has won a 2017 Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC) Picchi Award for Excellence in Cancer Research.
Award winner Rebecca Delconte
PhD student Rebecca Delconte

The annual Picchi Awards recognise and support future cancer research leaders from within VCCC alliance organisations. Ms Delconte was one of three outstanding students who received $10,000 in support of their professional development.

The support will enable Ms Delconte to travel and present her research alongside top immunology experts from around the world at the 17th Meeting of the Society for Natural Immunity Conference (NK2018) in Texas, United States.

Ms Delconte said attending NK2018 was a career-defining opportunity. “NK2018 is the leading international conference on natural killer (NK) cells, which are my passion and focus.

“I’m looking forward to hearing from, and presenting to, some of the best researchers in my field and to sparking international collaborations,” Ms Delconte said.

“Collaboration in science is vital. I would not be where I am today without the incredible team of people I work with at the Institute,” she said.

Ms Delconte’s supervisor, Dr Nick Huntington, said when Rebecca joined his team in 2013 she impressed him from the outset.

“Rebecca’s work has helped to advance our understanding of basic NK cell biology and identified NK cells as an important immune cell target in cancer immunotherapy,” Dr Huntington said.

“Rebecca’s dedication has already contributed to the publication of four papers, including papers in the two leading immunology research journals, Immunity and Nature Immunology, which is an impressive achievement for a PhD student.

“Rebecca’s research will contribute to better treatments for improving patient outcomes. She has a very bright future ahead,” he said.

Peter Mac education manager Dr Caroline Owen said on behalf of the Picchi Awards selection panel that Ms Delconte had an exceptional track-record and would learn valuable new skills as part of the professional development funded by the award.

“This is a well-timed opportunity to learn novel techniques in the burgeoning field of cancer immunotherapy,” Dr Owen said.

“The knowledge and skills Rebecca will gain abroad will benefit her career and further the work of her whole team at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.”

Picchi Brothers Foundation chair Mr Joseph Lukaitis congratulated Ms Delconte and her fellow winners.

“The foundation is committed to inspiring and encouraging the next generation of cancer research leaders,” Mr Lukaitis said. “We want to beat cancer and believe these awards could lead to a breakthrough.”

Previous winners of the Picchi Award for Excellence in Cancer Research include Ms Julia Marchingo and Mr Daniel Cameron, also from the Institute.

Ms Delconte’s research is also supported by The Leukaemia Foundation and Cancer Therapeutics CRC.

The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute is the research powerhouse of the VCCC. Through innovation and collaboration, the VCCC and its membership will drive the next generation of improvement in the prevention, detection and treatment of cancer.


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