The broad scope of studying a precise science

Dr Lisette Pregelj

Innovation has been the driving theme behind University of Queensland alumna and academic Dr Lisette Pregelj’s career.

So it’s no surprise that the young researcher works in the field of precision medicine — a disruptive innovation in the pharmaceutical industry.

"Precision medicine is an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention," Dr Pregelj said.

"It's medicine that takes into account individual variability in genes.

"I research precision medicines for a few reasons, but most of all, I want to help make people better, sooner.

"That involves looking at how gene-targeted medicines differ from non-precision medicines in the development and review phases.

"It's really important to understand how these innovations are affecting novel drug developers, and in turn, how quickly they're advancing through the development process.

"If we can expedite the development of individual treatments, then patients can access them - following regulatory approval - as quickly as possible."

The biotechnology and medicine landscape is constantly changing, and Dr Pregelj has found that cross-industry collaboration is crucial.

She's the perfect example of a researcher stretching across disciplines.

Currently holding positions in both the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, and the Australian Institute for Business and Economics in the Business, Economics and Law Faculty at UQ, Dr Pregelj has a well-developed background in both fields.

She is also a member of AusBiotech and part of the leadership of the Knowledge and Innovation interest group for the Strategic Management Society. 

Dr Pregelj's undergraduate degree was a Bachelor of Biotechnology (Honours) from UQ. She majored in microbial biotechnology and undertook her honours project in plant biotechnology.

"My time spent doing honours research, particularly completing a commercialisation feasibility assessment, really sparked my interest in the market research and commercialisation aspects of biotechnology," she said.

"This spurred me on to complete a Master of Technology and Innovation Management through the UQ Business School.

"The combination of these two degrees really gave me a unique edge in securing a role at the Centre for Integrative Legume Research as the Education and Outreach Manager."

Dr Pregelj's connections at UQ then led her to complete a PhD (also within the UQ Business School), continuing into post-doctorate research, where her interdisciplinary background provided her with a broad, ever-expanding network.

"The University of Queensland’s innovative approach to cross-disciplinary learning has helped foster my career and has been instrumental in its pioneering approach to biotechnology research," she said.

"And now I have the opportunity to regularly share my experience with the current and future UQ biotechnology students, opening their eyes to the opportunities a science background can provide.

"Precision medicine is changing the world, so it's an honour to be advancing it every day here at UQ.

"This is an incredible place to stretch across disciplines and make innovations happen."