The Western Australian Science and Innovation Minister John Day has awarded Dr Foteini Hassiotou the Western Australian 2011 AusBiotech-GSK Student Excellence Award for her breakthrough research into breast milk.   

Work by Dr Hassiotou and the  Human Lactation Research Group led by Professor Peter Hartmann from The University of Western Australia has identified that human breast milk contains stem cells which behave in a similar way to embryonic stem cells.


The discovery was first reported in 2008, when the research was presented at the 14th International Conference of the Society for Research on Human Milk and Lactation (ISRHML).

Mr Day said Dr Hassiotou’s research was a world first and would lead the way in stem cell research.

“This is truly outstanding research that could assist in discovering treatments for a number of serious diseases such as breast cancer,” he said.    

“The field of stem cell therapy is a promising and rapidly developing field and Dr Hassiotou’s work will make a positive impact in Australia and internationally.

Dr Hassiotou will travel to Adelaide to compete for the national title at the AusBiotech2011 conference.

The 2011 AusBiotech-GSK Student Excellence Awards aims to recognise and encourage promising life science, biotechnology and bio-engineering research students and to raise awareness of research translation and applications.