A St. Albert biologist received high praise for her cancer research this week.
Dr. Lynne-Marie Postovit was elected to the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists on Tuesday.
The St. Albert resident works as an associate professor for experimental oncology in the University of Alberta’s department of oncology. She also heads the university’s ovarian cancer research initiative.
Postovit is recognized as an expert in the study of the mechanisms that allow cancer cells to multiply and resist treatments. Her research has the potential to lead to new cancer treatments and early detection methods.
Postovit was nominated by colleague Dr. Marek Michalak. As former vice-dean of research for the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, Michalak was instrumental in retaining the cell biologist in 2013.
In Postovit, the distinguished professor sees an incredible role model for young researchers and for women in science.
“We’re so lucky that she decided to come to Alberta,” he said. “She’s doing a fantastic job with respect to research and I think that if there is going to be any breakthrough in cancer soon she’s going to be a part of it.”
The College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists is Canada’s first multidisciplinary recognition. It was created by the Royal Society of Canada to recognize the emerging generation of scholarly, scientific and artistic leadership.
To be elected members must demonstrate a high level of achievement at an early stage in their career. Up to 100 members can be elected to the College within a year.
Since beginning her postdoctoral studies in the early 2000s, Postovit has succeeded in indentifying potential therapies and biomarkers for cancer and demonstrating how cancers hijack stem cell pathways to spread and survive.
As a PhD student she found that supplying nitric oxide to cancer cells can block metastasis caused by hypoxia (low levels of oxygen) and as a post doctorate fellow she found that tumours secreted a stem cell protein called Nodal.
“This is probably one of the biggest recognitions she could have at this stage in her life,” said Michalak.
Postovit relocated to the Edmonton region from London, Ont., where she worked as an assistant professor at the University of Western Ontario.
She currently sits on three different chairs related to cancer development. As Sawin-Baldwin Chair in Ovarian Cancer at the University of Alberta, Postovit is working to determine biologic or protein markers that would allow for early detection of this deadly cancer.
Postovit, who was named Canada’s premier young researcher in 2009 by the Canadian Institute of Health Research, was honoured and humbled by Tuesday’s announcement.
“This one is special because it is a nomination and selection by a peer-group within the country and it’s really diverse,” she said.
Three other University of Alberta professors were named in Tuesday’s announcement: Zamaneh Kassiri, associate professor in the Department of Physiology; Candace Nykiforuk, associate professor in the School of Public Health and Applied Public Health Chair; and Duane Froese, associate professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and Canada Research Chair in Northern Environmental Change.
The 80 incoming members represent the College’s third cohort and will be inducted into the College in November during a ceremony held at Concordia University.