2019 South Australian Young Tall Poppy Science Award

Dr Marnie Winter has been named a winner of the 2019 South Australian Young Tall Poppy Science Award.

The biomedical engineer was among eight South Australian early career researchers honoured by SA Governor Hieu Van Le AC on 29 July.

The Tall Poppy Awards, an initiative of the Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS), recognises achievement in the sciences and helps to communicate the passion and purpose of Australia’s finest scientists.

Dr Winter, from the Future Industries Institute, is using microfluidic technology to isolate fetal cells from maternal white blood cells to help diagnose genetic abnormalities early on in pregnancy, as well as common complications such as pre-eclampsia and stillbirth.

Using lab-on-a-chip technology, Dr Winter can isolate these extremely rare cells – “like looking for needles in a haystack” – which provide important information about the health of an unborn baby.

Dr Winter’s team is hoping to commercialise the technology and make it available to expectant mothers around the world.

“We hope that one day this technology will be routinely used in pregnancies as a first screening stage to flag abnormalities for further testing,” she says.