International Women’s Day 2017

Posted: 08th March 2017

SVI celebrates the many women who have contributed to the Institute's success. We talk to the 2016 Susan Alberti Women in Research Award recipient, Dr Urmi Dhagat, who is the proud mother of a 9-month-old girl named Japna. We asked Urmi what receiving the Women in Research Award meant to her.

  • Why is the Award unique?

I think what makes this particular Award so unique is that it provides female researchers with the financial support required to ensure their research can continue while they are on maternity leave, or working part-time. Moreover, this Award recognises and celebrates the women who successfully manage to balance work and family life.

  • What did receiving the Award mean to you?

 I felt reassured that while I was at home caring for my newborn, my projects did not have to be put on hold. Very few scientists have the kind of support that I have received here at SVI; I would like to thank my lab head, colleagues and the Susan Alberti Medical Research Foundation for creating and funding the Women In Research Award.

  • What are the challenges of working in medical research and how do you overcome them?

The field of medical research is extremely competitive and to stay in the game it is vital to publish research outcomes in good quality publications and obtain research funding. Career disruptions due to maternity leave or part-time work hinder research progress, which affects productivity and grant success. The environment at SVI is extremely supportive for young scientists. I stay motivated by participating in career development meetings and seminars.  

  • There can also be challenges when you return to work as the parent of young children; how do you overcome these?

I am lucky to have supportive parents and the flexibility at SVI to be able to return to work 4 days a week. However, reduced working hours means that I have to work more efficiently to stay on track with my project goals.

  • Career highlight?

In 2015, I received an international award for my achievements as a young scientist and an invitation to present my work at the Federation of Asian and Oceanian Biochemists and Molecular Biologists Congress.

  • What keeps you motivated in your role as a researcher?

I love what I do. I work in the field of cancer biology and my role is to study proteins that ‘go bad’ when a person is ill. Knowing that you are playing a key role in solving the mysteries of human health is very rewarding.

Funds raised at the 2017 Susan Alberti Medical Research Foundation Women in Research Lunch support the Women in Research Award. This year's lunch is taking place on Thursday 11 May at The Ballroom, Leonda by the Yarra 2 Wallen Road, Hawthorn from 12 noon – 3:00pm. To purchase tickets to the lunch visit or phone 9560 1595.

Watch our Women in Research video here.