By : Vish Viswanathan
On 9th March 2016 Dharmica was the recipient of the “NSW Young Woman of the Year” award for being an exceptional researcher who is involved in implementing life changing medical research around early breast cancer detection that will impact upon women around the world. She was nominated by the Minister of Health, Jillian Skinner and attended the ceremony at Parliament house.
NSW Health Woman of the Year 2016 citation stated “Recipient of the 2015 Young Scientist Award, Dharmica is an inspiration to young women considering a future in medical research and microbiology. Dharmica is an exceptional researcher who is involved in implementing life changing medical research around early breast cancer detection that will impact upon women around the world. The core focus for Dharmica’s work is to commercialize a universal ground-breaking breast cancer screening test in collaboration with the University of Kentucky. Without her persistence, unfailing optimism and drive over the past eight years, a transformational global test may have never been developed. The partnerships and research driven by Dharmica have proven 90 per cent accurate in detecting the presence of the most common form of invasive cancer. Dharmica’s dream of significantly transforming women’s health worldwide through medical innovation is fast becoming a reality.”
Dr Dharmica Mistry is the Chief Scientist at BCAL Diagnostics, a small Australian biotechnology company developing a revolutionary blood test for the detection of breast cancer. Dharmica holds a BSc (Hons) from Sydney University, majoring in Microbiology. She was awarded a PhD from Macquarie University for her work on the detection and characterization of novel biomarkers in blood and hair that could be used as the basis for a blood test for breast cancer.
Dharmica’s insight into the potential of fatty acids in the blood stream, to indicate the presence of breast cancer, led to the filing of an international patent and was the basis for the formation of BCAL Diagnostics in 2010. Despite an initial lack of resources, Dharmica has doggedly pursued her vision to develop BCAL’s technology as an accurate, early test for the presence of breast cancer, for women of all ages, worldwide. Her determination has resulted in her leading an international collaboration with researchers in Kentucky, San Francisco and Dublin, as well as in New South Wales, with the aim of bringing the technology from a research finding to the wider community.
In November 2015 Dharmica was awarded the “Young Scientist Award” at the World Congress on Controversies in Breast Cancer, in Melbourne, for her outstanding presentation and innovative approach to breast cancer detection.
In December 2015 Dharmica graduated with a distinction from the NSW Health Medical Devices Commercialization Training Program, and was awarded an international travel scholarship for her outstanding work in the medical device field.
Following are excerpts from an exclusive interview with Dr. Dharmica Mistry
Vish Viswanathan: What are your feelings after winning this prestigious award?
Dharmica Mistry: I feel humbled. It gives me great motivation I was overwhelmed by the support I received during this award campaign. I am also excited to win this as an Indian origin woman.
VV: Any specific reason you chose for research in breast cancer?
DM: When I left University, I thought Science had an impact on the world. I was lucky to get a job in a company engaged in breast cancer research. It was a novel method to research using hair and blood samples. It pushed me into research to biomarkers for detection of breast cancer. Although biomarkers can identify other types of cancer such as lung cancer, I was totally focussed on breast cancer research. My company totally was very supportive to this research program and my career as a scientist.
VV: Moving forward, where you would you like to be in next five years?
DM: I love to continue my research and be part of a big breakthrough in Healthcare
The Indian Telegraph congratulates Dr. Dharmica Mistry, the NSW Young Woman of the Year and wishes her many more achievements making the community proud in multicultural Australia.