Professor Minoti Apte OAM
Professor Minoti Apte OAM was the winner of the 2015 NSW Premier's Award for Woman of the Year.
Professor Minoti Apte is internationally acknowledged as a leading researcher in the field of pancreatic diseases, particularly chronic inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) and pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly cancers with a five-year survival rate of just six percent.
Professor Apte's work investigates pancreatic cancer at a cellular level to find out how and why the cancer is so aggressive and spreads so quickly. She was the first in the world to develop a method to isolate pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs), a technique which provided a research tool for studying the path that pancreatic fibrosis (scarring of the pancreas) takes. Her group established that PSCs were responsible for producing the prominent scar tissue in pancreatic cancer and that there was a close communication between PSCs and cancer cells. This important finding proved that cancer cells recruit normal pancreatic cells from their micro-environment and turn them into co-conspirators to help the cancer grow and spread to distant parts of the body.
The next phase of Minoti's work is to stop the cancer cells working with normal cells. She is currently leading pre-clinical studies that are anticipated to create a new combination therapy to help improve treatment outcomes for people with pancreatic cancer.
In 2014, she was awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for her services to medical research, tertiary education and the Indian community. Minoti plays an active role in research training through her supervision and mentorship of PhD, Masters and Honours students. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of Pancreatology, a specialist journal in her field. Minoti’s publications have received over 3400 citations and she is regularly invited to speak at national and international scientific meetings. She has received national and international awards and honours in recognition of her work over the years.
On the community front, Minoti is an active member of the Marathi Association of Sydney, a community organisation that serves a large section of the Indian diaspora in Sydney. She has served on the organising committee, provided programs for community radio, and plays an active role in cultural events through her work as dance choreographer and performer. She is highly sought out by members of the community for advice and guidance on careers in academic/educational fields.