University of Sydney medical physicist Associate Professor Natalka Suchowerska has been awarded honorary membership of the prestigious European Society for Therapeutic Radiation Oncology (ESTRO) for her outstanding and innovative work in emerging technologies to improve treatment for cancer patients.
She is the first physicist from Australia to be made an honorary member of ESTRO in recognition of her exceptional contribution to the field of radiation oncology. Honorary membership is awarded to people who have made a significant contribution to the achievement of the goals of the society particularly in the field of interdisciplinary or international co-operation. The presentation was held during the ESTRO conference in Madrid on 31 August 2021.
Associate Professor Suchowerska is the co-director of VectorLAB, a unique multidisciplinary collaboration of physicists, engineers, biostatisticians and clinicians whose focus is the application of fundamental science and emerging technologies to improve cancer treatment for patients. Associate Professor Suchowerska’s work bridges clinical radiotherapy, medical physics, research and education and she has a successful track record of translating her work into clinical practice.
Associate Professor Suchowerska said: “I’m very excited about receiving this award and our research being recognised by such a prestigious organisation as ESTRO.
“I’m looking forward to using this platform to influence fresh minds to explore new ideas, seek out new partners, be resilient when confronted by inevitable barriers, and to value the pleasure of discovery along the way to the ultimate goal.”
Associate Professor Suchowerska is the co-director of VectorLAB with Professor David McKenzie from the School of Physics. Their goal has been to translate emerging technologies for the benefit of patients. VectorLAB is based at University of Sydney and has had a strong presence at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.
Associate Professor Suchowerska said: “The model of our group, VectorLAB is different from others by design - we are agile and efficient. When we have a project, we bring in the experts needed, address the problem and then disperse, maintaining the links. In this way, VectorLAB is always fresh and the immediate members engaged and relevant. You could call it a science/medicine scrum with the issue being at its centre rather than the people.”
“With David and I being at University of Sydney, it enables us to expand our collaborations across different health services, the public and private sector and with industry.”
About Associate Professor Suchowerska:
Natalka Suchowerska’s research has been recognized with awards including the 2019 NHMRC Marshall and Warren Award for the most innovative research in Australia; the 2017 Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine Roberts Prize for the best paper in Physics in Medicine and Biology, and the Robinson Prize in 2018 and 2020 for innovation in biomedical engineering.
In 2016, she was named among Australia’s 100 Women of Influence, joining Australia’s most inspirational and visionary women.
She has mentored students in diverse medical professions and has served as the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists Chief Examiner (Physics) and Australasian College of Physical Scientists and Engineers in Medicine Vice-President.
Associate Professor Suchowerska is the third Australian to be awarded the ESTRO honorary membership.