Thursday, July 18, 2024

Biologist receives research honour

Leading structural biologist Associate Professor Peter Mace has been awarded one of the University of Otago’s highest research honours.

Associate Professor Mace, from the University’s Department of Biochemistry, is the recipient of the 2022 Rowheath Trust Award and Carl Smith Medal.

The annual award promotes research at the University and recognises the outstanding research performance of early career staff.

Associate Professor Mace says, “It’s really rewarding to have this recognition, not just for myself, but for all the hard work put in by my research staff and students, who go above and beyond. I’ve also had great collaborative support from the University and from my peers across the country, in Australia and beyond.

“It’s great validation that you are doing internationally significant research – that you’re on the right path.”

His research focuses on understanding signalling networks that regulate how cells respond to stress. The overall goal is to decipher how specific proteins are regulated in normal and diseased cells, and to translate this into more effective disease therapy. His research has uncovered multiple protein structures relevant to cancer treatment.

Originally from Tokoroa in the North Island, Associate Professor Mace came to the University of Otago to study medicine. That’s when he discovered he was most interested in how things worked at the molecular level.

“That’s driven my fascination with science ever since,” he says.

As well as his key research contributions, Associate Professor Mace has held important leadership roles in the structural biology community in New Zealand and is the current President for the New Zealand Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Associate Professor Mace was appointed as a Research Fellow in the Department of Biochemistry in 2013 after having been awarded a prestigious Rutherford Discovery Fellowship. Through his publications, he has contributed new information and innovative technical expertise to the international protein biology community.

University of Otago Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise, Professor Richard Blaikie says Associate Professor Mace is internationally sought after as a collaborator and is also a popular speaker on the international scene.

“The high quality and impact of Peter’s work has also attracted a steady stream of excellent students into his laboratory for their postgraduate studies,” he said.

“Peter is a great example of the talent in our early career researcher ranks and well deserves this recognition.”

The late Sir Carl Smith was a prominent Dunedin businessman and member of the University Council who set up the Rowheath Trust to support the University’s work.

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