Autoimmune pioneer crowned emerging innovator

Dr Jing Jing Wang has won the Emerging Innovator category in the 2019 Winnovation Awards, recognising her groundbreaking research that is identifying molecular ‘signatures’ to tackle increasingly prevalent autoimmune diseases.

The Flinders University researcher was a finalist in two categories of the awards that celebrate South Australia’s women innovators – science and emerging innovator – with a new way to purify and sequence antibodies for the diagnosis and treatment of chronic autoimmune diseases.

These include rheumatoid arthritis, primary Sjögren’s syndrome and lupus, a poorly understood group that commonly affect young and middle-aged women.

Dr Wang’s research focuses on outcomes that can be readily translated in practice, using sophisticated technology.

She has identified immunoglobulin variable (IgV) region molecular signatures for specific autoantibodies, which are then applied in a novel platform to identify protective and/or pathogenic clones in patients, providing early markers for autoimmune diseases.

The signatures can also be used to guide clinical treatment through identifying which clones respond well to treatment and others that are resistant.

“I was so delighted to receive this award. It recognised all the hard work that my team and I have put into our research in autoantibody sequencing at Flinders University,” Dr Wang said.

“This award also gave me a great opportunity to share my passion and success with others.”

Her new technology has the potential to replace conventional autoantibody testing methods.

This year has seen Dr Wang broaden the reach of her pioneering research with the global medical community, including presenting at the 2019 Asia Pacific League Against Rheumatism Congress in Brisbane, and later this October at the International Union of Immunology Societies Conference in Beijing.

South Australia’s Winnovation Awards showcase the state’s top female innovators who are changing the game in their fields. The 2019 winners were announced on 3 October at a National Wine Centre event.

L-R: Dr Tim Chataway, Dr Jing Jing Wang and Dr Mary-Louise Rogers (winner of the 2018 Winnovation award in Technology).
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College of Medicine and Public Health