Dr Sonya Marshall-Gradisnik , a post-doctoral fellow at SCU's Lismore campus, received the award at the Australian Conference for Science and Medicine in Sport for a research project investigating the effect of anabolic steroids on immune system function.
The award is judged by national and international leaders in the field and awarded for research considered to be pioneering. As part of the award, Dr Marshall-Gradisnik will have a position reserved at the American College of Sports Medicine, where she will present the research next year.
"It is a great honour to receive this award. Previous winners of this award have gone and are now world leaders in their area of expertise," Dr Marshall-Gradisnik said.
"The work was part of a larger study funded by Mentorn Television London for a Channel 4 UK documentary on the effects of anabolic steroids and included looking at the immune system responses. There were performance gains, but a particular immune cell function was reduced after exercise. This may potentially make people more susceptible to infections as this cell is responsible for killing viruses."
The research involved a strictly controlled scientific study with volunteers given therapeutic doses of the steroid, testosterone enanthate, over a period of six weeks. The volunteers were moderately trained males who were monitored closely throughout the study.
"The findings are a first. Other side effects of steroids are well known but this is the first time a link has been shown with this specific part of immune function.
"People using steroids often only see the positives of taking steroids. This study demonstrates another reason why they are detrimental."
Dr Marshall-Gradisnik said she would be continuing research into the immune system, particularly in relation to supplements and other pharmaceutical agents.
Media contact: Brigid Veale, SCU Media Liaison, 66593006 or m. 0439 680 748.