Speaking at the award ceremony attended by around 300 of Australia's top medical research community, Associate Professor Little said there was a real need for new therapies to develop new technologies and strategies to treat kidney disease.
"With about 7,500 end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients in Australia receiving dialysis at a total cost of AU$375 million per annum, kidneys available for transplantation do not meet demand," she said.
"The kidneys not only filter blood to produce urine but also regulate blood pressure and red blood cell number, various hormones and growth factors. If your kidneys fail, you will need dialysis or organ transplantation to survive, both of which don't fix the problem."
Associate Professor Little's research has long focused on developing new treatments through understanding kidney development and the causes of renal disease.
Little chairs the Renal Regeneration Consortium, a research team of 12 national experts in the fields of developmental biology, molecular genetics, bioinformatics and stem cell biology, working to develop new technologies to repair kidneys damaged by chronic kidney disease.
"We are investigating the potential of stem cell technology to restore or replace damaged or diseased tissues in the kidney," she said.
In 2002, Nephrogenix Pty Ltd was set-up to commercialise the outcomes of the group and is currently developing technologies to enable the isolation of stem cells and growth factors that give rise to new kidney tissue and repair damaged tissue. Nephrogenix eventually aims to administer these cells to patients with, or at risk of ESRD.