Catia Pierotti

Catia Pierotti

Ms Catia Pierotti received the Colman Speed Honours Award as the top Honours student at the Institute in 2015.

Her research project focused on characterising novel inhibitors of necroptosis, a recently described cell death pathway that has been implicated in a variety of inflammatory diseases, including psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease.

New anti-inflammatory drug targets

Catia Pierotti and Professor Doug Hilton
2015 Colman Speed Honours Award winner
Ms Catia Pierotti with Institute director
Professor Doug Hilton

Ms Pierotti’s interest in necroptosis arose during her undergraduate studies, when she completed an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) placement in Associate Professor Guillaume Lessene’s laboratory.

This work led to her being an author on a research paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal in 2014, and encouraged her to continue in this research field.

“I was really interested in the work I was doing in my UROP placement and decided that I wanted to continue investigating necroptosis in my Honours year,” she said.

Her Honours project involved identifying the biological targets of a panel of small molecule necroptosis inhibitors. She hopes that validation of the targets she identified may improve our understanding of necroptosis and contribute to the development of new drugs to treat inflammatory diseases.

A supportive environment

Ms Pierotti said she found her Honours year challenging and rewarding. “It was a wonderful experience to work among the Institute’s world-class scientists in an environment with outstanding facilities, a strong culture of learning, a high standard of research and fantastic academic and social support for students.”

A highlight of her Honours year was the opportunity to collaborate with many scientists throughout the Institute.

“I met many highly motivated and inspirational people who were incredibly supportive and encouraging of students,” Ms Pierotti said.

She also enjoyed attending conferences, including the Japan Australia Meeting on Cell Death that was held at the Institute.

Ms Pierotti's strong involvement in community activities, in addition to her research work, was recognised by the Rotary Club of Melbourne, which presented her with a 2016 Young Achiever Award.

After taking time off from her study to travel overseas, Ms Pierotti is continuing her investigations of necroptosis for her PhD studies at the Institute.


Ms Pierotti’s Honours studies were supported by a scholarship from the Strathmore Community Bank.

Bronze medal for best honours student

The Colman Speed Honours Award is presented each year to our top Honours student.