WCAIR PI Mattie Pawlowic honoured as a rising star of science

Mattie Powlowic WCAIR PIDr Mattie Christine Pawlowic has been named as recipient of the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s (RSE) Dame Anne McLaren Early Career Medal in Life Sciences, one of its most distinguished honours.

Dr Pawlowic, a Principal Investigator and Sir Henry Dale Fellow in the University’s School of Life Sciences, has been recognised by the Society for her ground-breaking research into Cryptosporidium, parasites that causes chronic diarrhoea, or cryptosporidiosis, which is estimated to claim tens of thousands of infant lives every year.

Scotland has a wealth of cutting-edge scientific research that has a real impact on improving the lives of people around the world,” said Mattie. “It has been very exciting to collaborate on projects to make new medicines for cryptosporidiosis. Drug discovery is not something that we would have been a part of if we were not in Scotland.

Cryptosporidium is a waterborne parasite, which makes transmission difficult to control. Typical water treatment methods, such as chlorination, do not kill Cryptosporidium and effective techniques are either expensive or too impractical to be used in large population centres.

Cryptosporidiosis frequently leads to chronic diarrhoea that can prove fatal and commonly occurs in areas with poor sanitation. Waterborne outbreaks can also occur in developed countries when there is an issue with water treatment, or in recreational waters.

Children, older people and the immunocompromised are most likely to develop cryptosporidiosis. The only available treatment drug for this is not effective in children or the immunocompromised, meaning these groups are particularly at risk from the potentially devastating impact of the disease. Diarrhoeal disease is responsible for 10% of the deaths of children under five years old worldwide and cryptosporidiosis is the second leading cause of this.

In her career to date, Dr Pawlowic’s research has helped to identify the fundamental biology of Cryptosporidium for the first time, raising the possibility of one day developing new treatments to combat cryptosporidiosis.

Professor Sir John Ball, President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh said, “I congratulate Dr Mattie Pawlowic on being awarded the Dame Anne McLaren Medal. The RSE’s prestigious medals, which are nominated by RSE Fellows, are awarded to recognise truly outstanding accomplishments. Representing a range of fields, this year’s medallists join a remarkable group of pioneers whose work advances our knowledge and helps to improve lives all over the world. Their achievements highlight the depth and breadth of Scottish research talent.

Read more about research in the Pawlowic lab, https://pawlowiclab.org/.