Stirling scientist has won the John Frederick Adrian Spent Prize for malaria research

Parasitologist Dr Rina Wong with her 11- month-old son Kazran. Picture: Marcus Whisson d428124
Parasitologist Dr Rina Wong with her 11- month-old son Kazran. Picture: Marcus Whisson d428124

STIRLING scientist Rina Wong's research into malaria drug resistance has earned her a key award, while it could also help improve outcomes for infected children.

Ms Wong’s PhD examined malaria drug resistance, diagnosis, resistance surveillance, treatment and drug discovery.

‘My research contributed to the understanding of parasite drug sensitivity and genetic aspects underlying treatment outcomes in Papua New Guinea (PNG) children,’ she said.

‘It provided useful baseline data for monitoring and evaluation of treatment regimes in coastal PNG and supports the need for adoption of a new first-line treatment for uncomplicated falciparum malaria.’

Other findings included a developed high-throughput DNA technique, discovery of a new drug compound, some cholesterol drugs were found to have mild anti-malarial activity and development of a breath test device to identify malaria.

Her work earned her the John Frederick Adrian Sprent Prize, awarded every three years to recognise an outstanding thesis in parasitology.

In her nomination letter, Australian National University senior lecturer Kevin Saliba said the research was outstanding because it tackled three issues, data, new drugs and diagnosis methods that infected individuals rely on.

Ms Wong said the prize was the epitome of her achievements.

‘It’s like the crown jewel on my CV and hopefully the extra spark will increase the chance of acquiring funding,’ she said.

‘Being a medical research scientist is awesome and quite character building.

‘However, it is not so simple to stay as a research scientist due to inadequate funding.’