Alice Pebay appointed AM for her significant service to science

Alice Pebay appointed AM for her significant service to science
Kaylah Joelle Baker

Docklands resident Professor Alice Pebay said she was “overwhelmed with joy” after being acknowledged and appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in this year’s King’s Birthday honours.

Prof. Pebay is a principal research fellow of surgery, anatomy and physiology and a professor of the Departments of Neuroscience, Anatomy and Surgery at the University of Melbourne.

She received the recognition due to her significant service to science, particularly in her work in stem cell and neuroscience research. 

“In my current position of professor, I am leading research aimed at providing new experimental models to understand various human diseases,” she told Docklands News.

“I have a particular interest in conditions that affect the eye, such as age-related macular degeneration, as well as neurodegenerative disorders of the brain like Alzheimer’s disease.”

Before holding her current positions, Prof. Pebay was a principal research fellow of ophthalmology, a principal investigator, and head of the Centre for Eye Research Australia’s Regeneration Unit.

Speaking about the recognition, Prof. Pebay said she was “incredibly surprised when I received the news of the award.”

“I was filled with deep gratitude towards the individuals who have supported me throughout my journey; those who believed in my abilities, my mentors who provided guidance, and the various communities I have worked with that have offered their unwavering support,” she said. 

“It is a humbling experience to know that someone within the community deemed our work worthy of such an honour. As a migrant to Australia, receiving this award adds an extra dimension, as it also acknowledges the journey, I have undertaken to make an impact in a community of my choice.”

Prof. Pebay migrated to Australia in 2001 after obtaining a PhD in neuroscience from the University of Paris. 

Upon moving, she came to Melbourne to join a research group at Monash University, where she embarked on the study of human pluripotent stem cells, something she described as “a burgeoning field of research at the time”.

Looking back on her remarkable career, Prof. Pebay said “being a medical researcher is not merely a job – it is a deep-rooted passion”.

Since she was a child, Prof. Pebay has been driven by a desire to help others, and as time went on, she found the best way she could contribute was through comprehending disease mechanisms and developing strategies to prevent or treat these conditions.

“I chose to become a medical researcher due to my curious mind and my desire to contribute to a better world,” she said. 

“The science of life, encompassing biology and its diverse aspects such as evolution and physiology, has always fascinated me. Understanding biology is, to me, a way of gaining a deeper understanding of our place in the world.”

“Asking challenging questions and finding ways to answer them can have a profound impact on disease treatment, making medical research an indispensable component of a healthy society and an integral part of our societal fabric.”

In addition to her research, Prof. Pebay also helps people to understand science to help prevent manipulation by unfounded opinions or fake news.

“I consider it one of my primary responsibilities to advocate for science and explain its concepts to the broader community,” Prof Pebay said. “By doing so, science ceases to be abstract and becomes accessible, empowering society with knowledge, strength, and informed choices.” •

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Meet Peta Brehaut

May 29th, 2024 - Docklands News
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