Australian scientist recognised as emerging talent

December 05, 2023
Dr Emma-Anne Karlsen
Dr Emma-Anne Karlsen. Image credit: © Falling Walls Foundation.

An Australian scientist was awarded third place in the Emerging Talents category of the Falling Walls Science Breakthrough of the Year last month, at one of the world’s premier conferences for research and innovation, the Falling Walls Science Summit.

Dr Emma-Anne Karlsen from the University of Queensland was one of three Australians, and one of 100 young innovators, selected from more than 2,300 submissions across the globe to present her work in this prestigious competition.

Dr Karlsen wowed the audience and an esteemed panel of judges with her three-minute pitch ‘Breaking the wall of cancer therapy’, where she described her work investigating novel breast cancer biomarkers and therapeutic strategies.

In her pitch, Dr Karlsen explained how monoclonal antibodies are fantastic targeted medications for cancer, but that a sizeable portion of patients do not respond to the treatment.

Her team’s research is focused on repurposing an anti-nausea medication, prochlorperazine, at higher than usual doses to improve response rates to these medications. Once proven to be safe and efficacious through clinical trials, they envision better outcomes for patients with a range of cancers.

“The Simpson Lab at the University of Queensland work exceptionally hard to improve outcomes for patients with cancer. I feel very lucky to represent our wonderful scientists and clinicians,” said Dr Karlsen, who was honoured to receive the recognition.

The Falling Walls Science Summit is a global gathering of innovators and scientists, brought together to share their innovative ideas and breakthroughs to address some of society’s toughest challenges.

Each year the conference is held on the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which marked the dawn of a new era of freedom by breaking down barriers—both physical and imaginary.

“[Falling Walls] is a fantastic opportunity to connect with scientists from different countries and backgrounds. I have met incredible future collaborators and made genuine friends for life,” said Dr Karlsen.

Prof Hans Bachor, Dr Alex Griffin, Hemanshi Galaiya and Dr Emma-Anne Karlsen
Professor Hans Bachor AM FAA with the Australian Falling Walls Lab participants, left to right: Dr Alex Griffin , Hemanshi Galaiya and Dr Emma-Anne Karlsen.

Past President of the Academy, Professor Andrew Holmes, and Academy Fellow, Professor Hans Bachor, were both at the event to support the three Australian scientists and to celebrate Dr Karlsen’s success.

Professor Bachor, who was MC of this year’s Falling Walls Lab Australia, described the experience in Berlin as “an unforgettable week, where our young Australian scientists get to present their ideas to an influential audience, to people who can trigger changes, invest in solutions, influence their own communities, companies and governments across the world.”

Each year, the Academy hosts Falling Walls Lab Australia for students and early-career professionals to share their innovative ideas and be in to win a spot at the international finale in Berlin.

Read more on this year’s Falling Walls Lab Australia winners and on this year’s Falling Walls Lab global finale winners.

Information on the next Falling Walls Lab will be available in early 2024.

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