Dr. Ines Atmosukarto
The term ‘high achiever’ doesn’t really do justice to Dr Ines Atmosukarto.
At 37, she is an internationally recognised research scientist with numerous awards to her name, including a 2009 Australian Alumni Award for Research and Innovation, presented by the Australian Embassy in Jakarta for her dedication to finding new treatments for cancer and infectious diseases to save the lives of others. In 2004 she won a UNESCO L’Oreal Fellowship for Young Women in Science, and in 2007 she was presented with a Femina Award, which recognises the top 35 professional women for contribution to their field.
It all started at The University of Adelaide, where Ines completed a Bachelor of Science degree with First Class Honours in Biochemistry (“a course I enjoyed tremendously”) in 1995. Six years later, she was awarded a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in what was to become the School of Molecular Biosciences.
Ines then returned to Indonesia, to establish a research laboratory at the Research Centre for Biotechnology near Jakarta. But her reputation for excellence followed her, and it wasn’t long before she was invited back to Australia as the Chief Scientific Officer with a start-up biotech company in Canberra.
My career goals are simple. I would like to work on something that will make a difference in people’s lives...Dr. Ines Atmosukarto
“The company, Lipotek Pty Ltd, develops platform technologies for novel vaccines,” she says. “I thought this was a perfect opportunity to gain experience on the commercial side of biotechnology and have been working on using my unique position in establishing formal collaborations with Indonesian entities. Hopefully this will lead to some successful outcomes.”
Ines is also currently the editor of a life sciences journal into the latest advances in biotechnology research and a Research Fellow at the John Curtin School for Medical Research at the Australian National University.
And although she’s now based on the other side of Australia, Ines returns often to Adelaide for a clinical trial she’s working on. And she says she will always look fondly on the South Australian capital.
“I love that Adelaide is a relatively smaller place compared to Melbourne and Sydney. I found it less threatening and friendlier as a place to study. There is also definitely a multicultural feeling about it which is fantastic, and the food is great.” she says.
“I started out living at Aquinas (boarding) College in North Adelaide in my first year, and I think that was probably the best decision I made. Living in the college environment made integrating into Australian student life a lot easier – particularly learning about football and cricket!
“Afterwards, I moved into various shared houses and was very lucky to have a fantastic landlady in the last few years, who lived next to us. She has become my second family in Adelaide, having seen her children grow up. They are now at university and one of the girls is doing a science degree at The University of Adelaide!”
Despite everything she’s achieved at such a young age and the personal sacrifices she’s made along the way (her airline pilot husband is based in Vietnam and their 10-year-old daughter must remain in Jakarta until she joins her mum in Canberra later this year), Ines has plans to do much more.
“My career goals are simple. I would like to work on something that will make a difference in people’s lives … especially for those in lesser fortunate countries,” she says. “I also feel very strongly about the importance of education, including science education, in countries like Indonesia and hope to eventually have the chance to help on that front too.”