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Program Cytogeneticist, Anne-Maree Pearse, Receives International Science Award

This Page/ampearseandjames.jpgSenior cytogeneticist with the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program, Anne-Maree Pearse, recently travelled to Japan to receive an internationally prestigious award, the Prince Hitachi Prize for Comparative Oncology for her work with the Devil Facial Tumour Disease. Anne-Maree had been informed of the Award in February 2011 but the Award Ceremony was postponed to June this year due to the catastrophic Japanese earthquake and tsunami.  

The Prince Hitachi Prize was established in January 1995 by the Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research to celebrate the sixtieth birthday of the Prince Hitachi. The prize is awarded by the Committee on the Prince Hitachi Prize for Comparative Oncology of the foundation to promote research in cancer and related fields. The prize included return business class flights for two to Tokyo with accommodation, 1,000,000 yen, a certificate, a medal and an imperial pottery jar. As part of the Ceremony, Anne-Maree was formally introduced to their Royal Highnesses Prince and Princess Hitachi, professors from the Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research,  the Australian ambassador to Japan (Mr Bruce Miller) and Japanese representatives  from the departments of education and health. She presented a specially sculptured Huon Pine Tasmanian devil to the royal couple after the ceremony at a reception attended by invited guests and the Prince and Princess.

Anne-Maree donated part of her prize money towards tsunami relief at a reception held in her honour at the Australian embassy in Tokyo. Also on the trip, she gave a lecture on DFTD to the Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research and another as a keynote speaker at a symposium on endangered wildlife at Tama Zoo.

Apart from the kudos to the Tasmanian government regarding the prestigious scientific award, there were a number of very positive outcomes from Anne-Maree’s visit to Tokyo. For instance, the media coverage she received whilst there would have helped raise tourist interest in Tasmania. In regard to future research, Anne-Maree made some very important contacts amongst high profile cancer scientists who are interested in the medical aspects of the DFTD research. She also made excellent contact with leading wildlife conservationists, and members of Japan’s medical and zoo societies, as well as Prince Hitachi, who is chairman of the Japanese Conservation Foundation as well as of the Tokyo Zoo Association.

Photograph above: Anee-Maree Pearse and her son, James