Research Assistant & PhD candidate (Bond University)
Development of Cone Photoreceptors from Human Pluripotent Stem Cells (hPSC)
My work involves developing a protocol to produce the cells in your eyes that allow you to see (photoreceptor cells) from human pluripotent stem cells. They are lost as a consequence of diseases such as Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). I develop these cell in culture and then test them at various stages of their development to see how closely they resemble the natural ocular development of these cells. They undergo rigorous testing using many different techniques. The protocol is now being tested using other stem cell lines to see if the protocol needs to be adjusted or optimised. The cells are then subjected to functional tests in vitro that will progress to test for their function and integration in an in vivo animal. This work has the potential to translate to the clinic with the hope of one day being able to restore sight.
Work like this opens up opportunities for our local young people who are interested in being a part of a growing field of regenerative and personalised medicine.
Stem cell biology and it’s uses as a future therapy is a rapidly growing genre of science. It is a privilege to be part of this growth here on the Gold Coast. With exposure and encouragement, we can build this up to give not only opportunity for people within this field but also being able to contribute to a therapy that may one day be offered to millions of Queenslanders.
My love for science and medicine has no bounds and is advocated through teaching, communication and writing. My passion radiates in my class rooms and to my colleagues, my friends and family.
I am an advocate for women who want to pursue science and medicine and have spent many hours with many students encouraging them not to give up on things that they dream of achieving. I also have a family and many, many people told me I couldn’t do both or that things would suffer if I did. I am doing both and each makes me better at the other. I understand and know that so many women have to give things up after they become a parent, or are not looked upon as favourable candidates and I am here to encourage them all (as a few have done for me) not to give up on their curiosity and their passion for science and medicine. Our STEM culture needs to acknowledge this and include and support these women, women like me.
Since recently moving back to the Gold Coast, when I enrolled my children into their new school, I spoke with the headmaster to arrange for me and some of my lab to come and talk to students about what we do and why it is so important. We hope to be able to arrange for a tour of our labs and facilities in the coming months as well.