Immune system scientist makes Victorian ‘honour roll’

03 November 2014
Key Researchers
Emeritus Professor Lynn Corcoran
Honorary Research Fellow
Associate Professor Lynn Corcoran looking at a petri dish
Associate Professor Lynn Corcoran has been
inducted to the 2013 Victorian Honour Roll of
Women for her immune system and cancer
discoveries and support of aspiring female
scientists and students.
Associate Professor Lynn Corcoran from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute has been inducted to the 2013 Victorian Honour Roll of Women for her discoveries into the immune system and cancer, and her support of aspiring female scientists and students.

The Victorian Honour Roll of Women recognises and celebrates women who have made an extraordinary contribution to Victoria. Twenty women women were inducted to the 2013 Victorian Honour Roll of Women in an event at Parliament House last night.

Associate Professor Corcoran manages her own laboratory in the institute’s Molecular Immunology division, where she studies the immune system and cancer. Her research has provided major insights into the development of lymphomas (a type of blood cancer), malaria and the immune response to cancers and chronic immune disorders. She is also an active contributor to science communication and education, and initiatives to support women in senior science positions.

Associate Professor Corcoran said she was thrilled to be named on the honour roll. “I have always loved the biological world, both its riches and its mysteries,” she said. “It has been my privilege to explore some of those mysteries in the context of cancer and infectious disease, and to encourage others, especially young students and women, in their own commitment to life as professional biologists.”

Associate Professor Corcoran’s studies in human diseases focus on B cells – critical immune cells that produce antibody to fight disease. “B cells are the ultimate workhorses of the immune system and the source of antibody, which is essential for protecting the body against infections and the key to the protective abilities of vaccines,” she said. “Our studies will help to identify the genetic basis for the B cell abnormalities that lead to immune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, immune deficiencies, and cancers of the blood cells such as myeloma. We also hope they will pave the way for new treatments for these diseases.”

In addition to these studies, her work with Tasmanian researchers on enhancing immune responses in Tasmanian devils may lead to new treatments for the Devil Facial Tumour Disease that has been ravaging this critically endangered marsupial population.

Addressing the severe underrepresentation of women in the medical research sector is another of Associate Professor Corcoran’s passions. As part of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute’s gender equity team, she has devised and implemented several new policies and programs aimed at supporting women through career progression, to try to address the severe underrepresentation of females at senior levels in the medical research sector.

“It is exciting to be part of an institute that is being proactive in providing the support and services necessary for retaining talented early-career female scientists,” she said. “Our policies and programs aim to support women through career progression, particularly when they have young families, and includes various initiatives for improving childcare options and supporting parenting needs.”

The Victorian Honour Roll of Women is an initiative of the Victorian Government’s Office of Women’s Affairs and recognises women for their contributions in a diverse range of fields including health, science, law, social justice, sport, arts, media and education, as well as their involvement in ethnic and Indigenous communities.

Further information:

Liz Williams
Media and Publications Manager
P: +61 3 9345 2928
M: +61 405 279 095
E: williams@wehi.edu.au

WEHI Authors
Emeritus Professor Lynn Corcoran
Honorary Research Fellow
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