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News & Media > Alumnae Awards > 2024 Alumnae Award Recipients > Assistant Professor Dr Sophie Maiocchi (2007)

Assistant Professor Dr Sophie Maiocchi (2007)

2024 Young Alumnae Award for Professional Achievement

Dr Sophie Maiocchi has established herself as a leading researcher in the field of bionanoengineering for cardiovascular health. She has a unique, interdisciplinary expertise across the fields of chemistry, biomedical engineering, and medicine. With these multiple capabilities, she has been able to identify innovative solutions to crucial problems. 

At MLC School from Year 4 to Year 12, Sophie established herself as a high achieving student. She received a 99.8 UAI/UAR (2007 equivalent of ATAR) after completing the International Baccalaureate. At the 2007 Speech Night, Sophie received the IB Prizes for Ancient History and for Higher Level Mathematics.

After school, Sophie completed an advanced BSc (Nanotechnology), receiving 1st Class Honours and quickly followed up with a PhD (Pathology/Experimental Pathology); both at the University of NSW. Her PhD, entitled ‘Inhibition of myeloperoxidase-mediated endothelial dysfunction by glycocalyx-targeted nitroxides’, was very well received by the review panel. Since completing her PhD in 2016, Sophie has made a number of significant contributions to the field of bionanoengineering by addressing long-standing challenges in the treatment of heart disease. 

One of her innovations was the development of nanoparticles that target macrophages (white blood cells) for the selective delivery of drugs to atherosclerotic plaque, where they activate an antioxidant response, resulting in prevention of atherosclerosis. A second innovation was creating nanoparticles that contain alternative blood-clot dissolving therapies for targeted delivery to venous blood clots. The efficacy of these systems has been clearly demonstrated in mice. 

As well as developing new nanomedicines, Sophie also contributes to the development of crucial new medical research technologies. In one example, Sophie used cutting edge microscopy and machine learning techniques to develop a new unbiased whole-tissue method for imaging and quantitation of atherosclerotic plaques. By making the quantitation of atherosclerosis easier and unbiased, this technique will help accelerate the development and testing of novel drugs to treat this disease.

Currently Sophie is a Tenure Track Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Department of Surgery & Hypertension at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA. She has been the lead author of multiple publications, has received over a million dollars in research funding, and has a patent registered: ‘Compositions and Methods for Treating Venous Blood Clots.’ All at the age of 33.

In her nomination, Professor Elizabeth New (2000) said that Sophie is an extremely promising early-career researcher who has already achieved many significant outcomes, who she is certain will continue to do so in the future.

MLC School congratulates Sophie; a remarkable young woman whose brilliance and dedication have yielded outstanding achievements in the field of medical science. Sophie’s goal is that her innovations will ultimately be translated into therapies that will treat patients suffering from cardiovascular disease. That said, when it comes to cardiovascular disease, Sophie also stands behind the maxim ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!’

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