Dr Onisha Patel

Dr Onisha Patel

Senior Postdoctoral Fellow

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

When you spot a beautiful scene in nature, you might like to take a photo. But how do you capture the beauty of things that are invisible to the naked eye?

Dr Onisha Patel is a structural biologist at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI). She uses cutting-edge imaging technologies, including the Australian Synchrotron facility, to capture the inner beauty of molecules that make up life at a nanoscale.

These tiny molecules, called proteins, have a unique shape. When proteins don't function correctly, they can cause diseases.

Onisha's work uncovers the structure of proteins and contributes to a greater understanding of how they work. This knowledge helps scientists develop more targeted treatments.

Onisha's research has made an impact. It has led to a drug in clinical trials for a type of bone marrow cancer, reagents to detect a specialised type of immune cells being distributed by the National Institute of Health and the Eureka Prize for Scientific Research. She has held an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship, published in high profile journals, secured competitive funding and holds a patent.

Onisha grew up in India and moved to Australia to pursue a career as a scientist. She was inspired by the story of Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw (the CEO of India’s largest biopharmaceutical company Biocon) to study in Australia.

Onisha's love for science began in art. It was art that taught her how to observe, experiment and be patient. She believes there's room for people with a variety of passions to thrive in science.

She now combines her passions by creating art that illustrates her science, communicating this through art exhibitions, collaborating with schools and giving public talks.

She’s a strong supporter of diversity and inclusion in STEM and has been a mentor for programs like BrainSTEM, Freedom English Academy and Elizabeth Blackburn Sciences Extended Investigation program.

Dr Onisha Patel is a Superstar of STEM.