Young achiever Lauren Cornall

From small-town girl to Victoria Young Achiever Award finalist, Lauren Cornall is a rising star in cardiovascular research.

The 26-year-old PhD researcher was nominated for her brilliant academic results and commitment to improving health through research, teaching and volunteering in the community.

Lauren is one of three finalists in the BASF Science & Technology Award category, with a winner announced May 9. Last year’s winner in this category was Victoria University researcher Dr Elizabeth Verghese who, like Lauren, is from the College of Health & Biomedicine.

Lauren said she was excited to be in the running for such a prestigious prize and flattered to have her hard work recognised.

“This recognition opens new doors for me in being able to achieve what I want to achieve in becoming a research academic,” she said.

Her PhD research focuses on new pharmaceutical targets for treating obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

“We know obesity and diabetes reduce the ability of the heart and skeletal muscle to make energy from the foods we eat, so we are looking at ways of turning receptors on or off in these muscles to restore this vital function," she said.

"If we can help the muscle burn more fats and sugars it promotes weight loss and helps to lower blood sugar levels. This helps to improve overall health and reduce the risk of heart disease. ”

Lauren said cardiovascular disease and diabetes were crucial areas of research and ones she's committed to pursuing.

“Because these health issues affect so many people and there are still so many questions to be answered it is an area where research can make a really big difference to people’s lives,” she said.

Lauren’s principal supervisor, Associate Professor Andrew McAinch, described Lauren as a rising star in biomedical research.

“Lauren is on target to produce a high quality thesis. Meanwhile she already has more than half a dozen first author academic publications, has received numerous awards for academic and research excellence and is invited to speak at health conferences around the world,” he said.

“At this very early stage of her research career this level of output is a credit to Lauren and is a testament to her hard work and dedication to succeed as a biomedical scientist.”

Lauren is also a committed volunteer in schools and community groups where she promotes nutritional health and science as a career option for young people.

Originally from Gippsland, in rural Victoria, Lauren left her friends and family in the country to pursue a career in researcher. She said the support received at Victoria University had been vital in making that difficult transition successful.

“During my undergraduate studies and now postgraduate research here at VU I’ve had so much support and as far as my supervisors go, I really couldn’t have asked for anything more,” she said.

Lauren is supervised by Associate Professor Andrew McAinch and Associate Professor Michael Mathai in Victoria University's Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management, as well as Dr Deanne Skelly at the University of Melbourne.

Lauren’s postgraduate studies are supported by a scholarship from the National Heart Foundation of Australia and a Victoria University Vice Chancellor’s Award.

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