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Creating forensic crime scenes for primary school sleuths is just one way award-winning Highton scientist Luke Henderson makes science interesting.
Associate Professor Henderson won a state-wide award on Thursday for his treatment breakthroughs for diseases like tuberculosis and cancer – and his unique talent for communication.
“I believe that making science accessible should be a part of every scientist’s life,” he said.
“Great science needs to be well communicated if it is to provide the evidence-base necessary to shape critical policy decisions and industry investment choices.
“For young Australians, science, technology, engineering and mathematics education is critical for the nation’s future.”
The Victorian Young Tall Poppy Science Award recognised Assoc Prof Henderson as one of the state’s most promising scientists for his work in minimising harm from cancer treatments.
“Sometimes, undergoing treatment for cancer is as painful and crippling as the cancer itself and is only the slightly lesser of two evils,” he said.
“This is because cancer treatments do not see a difference between cancer cells and healthy cells.”
The Deakin University professor’s research focused on using “the destructive nature of cancer cells against themselves”.
“Cancer cells divide very quickly,” he explained.
“This means they are unable to manage simple processes like ‘taking out the garbage’.”
These characteristics allowed him to develop treatments that specifically targeted cancer cells and minimised the painful side-effects of cancer treatment.
Assoc Prof Henderson graduated his PhD in 2007 and completed a postdoctoral fellowship with Oxford University before joining Deakin in 2008.
He meets regularly with groups of high school students and hosted teachers and students in his laboratory for supervised lab work.
Assoc Prof Henderson has attracted more than $13 million in funding to translate research into concrete outcomes.

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