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06 Sep 2023

2023 Daniel Rechtman Research Award boosts Dr Sapna Devi’s innovative immunology research

Dr Sapna Devi, Research Officer in the Mueller Lab, in the University of Melbourne’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Doherty Institute, has been awarded the 2023 Daniel Rechtman Research Award by The CASS Foundation to support her research on the impact of stress signals on anti-tumour immunity. 

Through a competitive selection process, The CASS Foundation is funding three transformative research projects led by early-to-mid career researchers at the Doherty Institute, between 2022 and 2024, with the Daniel Rechtman Research Award. 

“We at The CASS Foundation are delighted to announce the recipient of the 2023 Daniel Rechtman Research Award is Dr Sapna Devi of the Doherty Institute. The funding will support Dr Devi’s research project ’Investigating the role of stress in anti-tumour immunity’,” said David Abraham AM, Chair of The CASS Foundation, who expressed his excitement that the project could benefit knowledge that could improve current cancer therapies and potential therapeutics for other diseases. 

Dr Devi's research project aims to unravel the intricate connections between stress signals and immune responses, shedding light on the mechanisms that govern these crucial interactions. She expects her work will advance our fundamental understanding of neuron functions and neuroimmune pathways. 

“In previous research, we discovered that signals produced by nerves in response to stress can stop immune cells from effectively fighting pathogens or tumours. Thanks to the Daniel Rechtman Research Award, I will be able to delve into how stress can impair immune responses in hope to find ways to overcome the negative effects of stress on immunity,” Dr Devi said. 

“It’s such an honour to receive this Award and I am grateful to the CASS Foundation for their support of early-career researchers. It serves as a powerful motivation for me to continue pushing the boundaries of knowledge and make meaningful contributions to my field.” 

University of Melbourne Laureate Professor Sharon Lewin, Director of the Doherty Institute, congratulated Dr Devi on her achievement. 

“The 2023 Daniel Rechtman Research Award recognises the significance of Sapna’s research in immunology and the generous support of our donors – The CASS Foundation,” said Professor Lewin. 

“The Foundation’s support of early-to-mid career researchers is an investment in the future of scientific discovery. It offers talented individuals, like Sapna, the opportunity to explore innovative ideas and contribute fresh perspectives. Thank to David and his team, Sapna’s research project will not only address critical questions in immunology but also holds the promise of practical applications that could reshape medical treatment. 

“I’m proud to see our researchers expanding of knowledge and making a positive impact through their hard work, dedication and insights.” 

About The CASS Foundation: Established in 2002, The CASS Foundation is dedicated to supporting pioneering research in medicine and science. The organisation is committed to projects that have the potential to make lasting impacts on healthcare practices and patient outcomes. 

In 2022, the inaugural Daniel Rechtman Research Award was presented to University of Melbourne Dr Susan Christo, Postdoctoral Researcher at the Doherty Institute. Read more