At school, Jane Oppenheim loved the certainty and the high marks she could attain in maths and chemistry, and decided to study science at Monash. As an undergraduate, ideas of working as a teacher gave way to thoughts of becoming an academic. She went on to complete a PhD in biochemistry, investigating peptides, in 1985-6.
"People were just transcribing the human genome and starting to make peptides and being a peptide chemist was very valuable then," said Dr Oppenheim.
After completing her doctorate, she was offered a position at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute as a peptide chemist but was made redundant by a machine that could do her work just before she started, a big disappointment. The institute however invited her to study immunology – a new field for her but one that turned out to be a useful background for understanding dermatology.
She married fellow Monash alumnus Alan Oppenheim during her PhD year and joined his family's company as research director in 1990. The company makes the range of QV Skincare products, which include moisturisers and lip balms, to treatments for eczema, acne and psoriasis. Ego Pharmaceuticals adopts a scientific approach to skincare however, investing in dermatological education and research.