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Source: University of Otago

Associate Professor Peter Mace
Leading structural biologist Associate Professor Peter Mace is the recipient of the 2022 University of Otago Rowheath Trust Award and Carl Smith Medal.
The award is one of the University of Otago’s highest research honours and recognises the outstanding research performance of early career staff.
Associate Professor Mace, of the University’s Department of Biochemistry, leads research which focuses on understanding signalling networks that regulate how cells respond to stress. The overall goal is to decipher how specific proteins are regulated in normal and diseased cells, and to translate this knowledge into more effective disease therapy. His research has uncovered multiple protein structures that are relevant to cancer treatment.

“It’s really rewarding to have this recognition, not just for myself, but for all the hard work put in by my research staff and students, who go above and beyond.”

Associate Professor Mace says, “It’s really rewarding to have this recognition, not just for myself, but for all the hard work put in by my research staff and students, who go above and beyond. I’ve also had great collaborative support from the University and from my peers across the country, in Australia and beyond.
“It’s great validation that you are doing internationally significant research – that you’re on the right path.”
Originally from Tokoroa in the North Island, Associate Professor Mace came to Otago to study medicine. That’s when he discovered he was most interested in how things worked at the molecular level.
“That’s been my fascination ever since.”
While operating at the microscopic level, he is acutely aware of the big picture – how research such as his can improve health outcomes.
Associate Professor Mace says it’s an honour to be in the company of the successful academics and researchers who have previously received the award. He’s also grateful to the funding agencies who have supported his work, particularly the Marsden Fund and Health Research Council.
As well as his key research contributions, Associate Professor Mace has held important leadership roles in the structural biology community in New Zealand and is the current President for the New Zealand Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
Associate Professor Mace was appointed as a Research Fellow in the Department of Biochemistry in 2013 after having been awarded a prestigious Rutherford Discovery Fellowship. Through his publications, he has contributed new information and innovative technical expertise to the international protein biology community.
University of Otago Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise Professor Richard Blaikie says Associate Professor Mace is internationally sought after as a collaborator and is also a popular speaker on the international scene.
“The high quality and impact of Peter’s work has also attracted a steady stream of excellent students into his laboratory for their postgraduate studies.
“Peter is a great example of the talent in our early career researcher ranks and well deserves this recognition.”
Associate Professor Mace chairs the Biochemistry Department research committee and has recently been appointed as the Associate Dean for Research for the School of Biomedical Sciences. In these roles he aims to provide more support for early career researchers and has helped set up new postgraduate scholarships in Biochemistry.
Associate Professor Mace will deliver a Carl Smith Medal Lecture later in the year. Details will be provided closer to the time.
– Kōrero by Andrea Jones