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Disease research wins scientist prestigious national award

Seventy per cent of human genes are found in zebrafish and it’s this incredible commonality which has helped Monash University early career researcher Dr Avnika Ruparelia to better understand the causes of progressive muscle weakness.

At the annual Health and Medical Research Awards held by national advocacy body, Research Australia Dr Ruparelia, above, received the Griffith University Discovery Award for her ground-breaking research into the causes and therapeutics for a group of late onset muscle disorders known as myofibrillar myopathies.

Research Australia CEO Nadia Levin said, “Dr Avnika Ruparelia has made an outstanding contribution to the muscle disease field. We were thrilled that we recognise Dr Ruparelia’s research, which is all the more amazing when you consider that she is someone just at the start of her career.

“Patients affected with this disease have reduced life expectancy due to respiratory muscle failure and cardiac complications. There is currently no treatment and very little research being done to explore new therapies.

“Dr Ruparelia’s research has provided hope to patients suffering with myofibrillar myopathies, and to their families. She’s a wonderful example of the incredible emerging talent in Australia’s health and medical research sector,” said Ms Levin.

Dr Ruparelia, who won the award whilst undertaking research in the Monash School of Biological Sciences, has identified the origins and development of the disease to develop a better treatment options, which could potentially prevent any further muscle damage in patients affected with the disease.

“I am delighted and honoured to have received this award,” she said.

“To have contributed so much to advance our understanding of this disease is an exceptional achievement,” said Dr Robert-Bryson Richardson, who supervised Dr Ruparelia’s research.

“Covering the complete spectrum from basic science, investigating the fundamental biology behind a disease, to identification of a therapy that can be administered to patients, is a rare feat, and one that ordinarily can take decades,” he said.

“For a young researcher to have accomplished it so early in their career is a phenomenal achievement and a testament to Avnika’s dedication and ability.”

Source: Monash University

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