Kat Holt named L’Oréal Women in Science Rising Talent

31 March 2015

In a ceremony held in Paris, biochemist and molecular biologist, Dr Kathryn Holt was named one of 15 Rising Talents for L’Oréal Women in Science for 2015.

Dr Holt was recognised for her innovative methods in detecting the presence and impact of drug resistant bacteria in hospitals. Her work in this field began when researching typhoid in Nepal.

She found that the tropical disease didn’t always arise from the same source even within a small community, indicating that community members could be carrying the disease from multiple sources.

In hospital settings, Dr Holt is studying whether patients in intensive care are carrying drug resistant strains of bacteria when they arrive in hospital.

Screening incoming patients for existing infections could change the way the patient is treated and reduce the number of instances of untreatable infections in hospitals.

This research was funded by a L’Oréal Women in Science Fellowship grant which she received in 2013.

Dr Holt and her colleagues have based their computational lab at The Bio21 Institute, working closely with other researchers in Australia and internationally.

Professor Leann Tilley, Deputy Head of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Bio21 Institute said Dr Holt is an inspiration to graduate research students and aspiring future research leaders.

“Dr Holt is emerging as one of Australia’s research stars,” she said.

“She is leading the development of computational biology and bioinformatics in Australia – the science of the future,” Professor Tilley said.

Professor Stephen Smith, Dean of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences pointed to Dr Holt as an example of the exceptional scientific talent present in the biomedical precinct.

“She is collaborating with multiple affiliates towards a common goal of better health outcomes for patients,” he said.

“Dr Holt is working towards real and practical improvement for the care of patients and hospital staff.”

Vice Chancellor Glyn Davis said engaging more women in science and technology is a priority for the University of Melbourne.

“We are excited by the work of individuals who challenge assumptions and chart new directions in public health and epidemiology. Dr Holt will inspire more young women to participate in science,” he said.