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Professor Roz Anderson recognised with a Women in STEM WIN Award

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Published on 18 November 2016

Professor Roz Anderson
Professor Roz Anderson

Professor Roz Anderson, Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of Sunderland, has been awarded a WIN Award in the STEM Category at the Network North East Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2016.

The annual event recognises and rewards achievement of women in business in the North East.

On receiving the award Professor Roz Anderson commented: "I'm honoured and delighted to be chosen to receive the WIN Award in the STEM category of the Women into the Network North East Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2016.

"I'm fortunate to work with a great team of colleagues, researchers and students, and I feel that the award is not for me alone, but recognises and celebrates our combined achievements across a range of research projects."

Women from all aspects of the business community are encouraged to enter the WIN Awards and be recognised for their talent and inspiration as leading lights in region’s business community.

In the nomination criteria for the Women in STEM Award judges stated that they were looking for "an exceptional woman in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, who has pioneered new discoveries and/or been instrumental in bringing the benefits of those discoveries to market for economic and social impact".

Professor Roz Anderson’s nomination highlighted her commitment to the development of medicinal chemistry throughout her career, in particular improving the treatment of the rare and fatal genetic disorder Cystinosis.

In her 29-year career as a researcher at the University she has worked on the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, diagnosis of bacterial infections, psoriasis and cancer, but her particular passion is the battle against Cystinosis.

This genetic disorder is a largely misunderstood and under-researched illness, which affects around 2,000 people worldwide. Many sufferers die before the age of 10 due to lack of knowledge about the illness and its treatment and, until recently, few lived beyond the age of 20.

In 1994 one of Roz’s colleagues, Professor Geoff Rowley, a formulation scientist working in collaboration with a consultant at the RVI in Newcastle, developed a formulation of micro-pellets, tiny particles that prevented the smell and taste of Cystinosis medicine, so that children could take it much more easily. But when Geoff retired nothing further happened, and Roz began to see how it would be possible to use chemistry to help solve this problem. This was the beginning of what became her passion and her life’s work - to tackle this terrible disease. Now Roz and her team have a candidate molecule that’s ready to go into pre-clinical trials.

A strong believer in teamwork and power to make a difference in society by inspiring future generations, Roz insists on working alongside undergraduate and PhD students, and post-doctoral scientists, ensuring that young people are advocates for the advancement of medicine and society.

Her work is not purely confined to the laboratory, she has made a point of meeting the children affected by this illness and their families, which she believes is an essential aspect of her work. She also works closely with the charity Cystinosis Foundation UK, which since 2012 has awarded over £600,000 to her research and the ‘prodrugs’ project. Roz is very aware that for a small charity dedicated to a rare disease this is an enormous amount of funding and that’s behind her dedication to taking the prodrug forward to clinical use, subject to safety and toxicity tests.

University of Sunderland Vice-Chancellor Shirley Atkinson said: "Roz embodies the philosophy of the University of Sunderland, that research should be undertaken to advance our society and inspire future generations of researchers and practitioners. She has an inspirational and passionate belief in supporting other researchers and students to look for solutions to today’s health issues. Roz is a true role model to students and colleagues as the embodiment of an active, engaged, impactful researcher. We are honoured and proud to have Professor Rosaleen Anderson’s pioneering work at the University of Sunderland."

Roy Forsyth, Chairman of Cystinosis Foundation UK, said: "A consummate professional, it has been truly inspiring to work with Professor Anderson.  She has been able to communicate her complex research not only to her peers but to the parents of children with this condition with ease. She makes a point of attending patient conferences and takes time to speak to the cystinosis community, purely out of compassion. I think Professor Anderson does what she does because she cares and she knows what this means to our small community.  We count our blessings that someone like Roz has dedicated so much of her life to our cause."