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  • Writer's pictureElly Wills

JCSMR research day

The John Curtin School recently hosted its first Research Day, an event where researchers from different groups at the JCSMR were able to share their work and ideas, and receive feedback from each other. With busy schedules, different areas of expertise and number of lab groups, it is difficult to stay versed in all the work being carried out across the school. Research day gave us this opportunity, and it was inspiring to see the progress people were making in areas such as brain cancer, multiple sclerosis, and malaria.

Beyond the information presented, my favourite part of the day was seeing so many people offering help and lending their expertise. Through sharing resources or technical skills, instigating connections, and providing critiques, I was able to see the potential of collaboration in research.

From the Clear Vision Research lab, we had post-docs Josh Chu-Tan and Riemke Aggio-Bruce present. Josh presented on behalf of him and Yvette Wooff, which focused on their work harnessing the power of extracellular vesicles (EV) generated through exercise, as a treatment for retinal degeneration. Exercise is beneficial to health, and plays a role in lowering inflammation, extending its effects to the retina. This protective power may be partly controlled by the movement of EV’s carrying protective cargo which are released by muscle tissue. Their work is aiming to synthesis these EV’s, to potentially deliver the anti-inflammatory effect for people who are unable to exercise.

Riemke Aggio-Bruce presented on behalf of her and Ulrike Schuman, sharing their work surrounding microglia activity in the retina during degeneration. With the addition of spatial transcriptomic analysis, gene activity can be mapped to location in tissue, meaning microglia can be better profiled during retinal degeneration. Microglia activity is central to retinal inflammation and degeneration, therefore understanding their activity and gene expression in disease processes is an essential aspect in understanding AMD and finding therapeutic targets.

While many people were happy to be back in a conference environment after taking a break or being forced online during covid, for some early career researchers and students like myself, this was the first opportunity to experience a conference in person. Listening to the presentations was inspiring, and the emphasis on research translational power demonstrated exciting potential in future medical applications.

One of the things I’d taken away from the day was realising that everyone has a different style of research. There is no cookie cutter mould of what a researcher should look like, nor how they think or communicate their ideas. The versatility between presentations was reassuring, demonstrating I can take this career in the direction that suits me. It also highlighted the benefits of working with people with different styles in enriching your viewpoint.

Overall, Research Day was a huge success in not only strengthening the direction of research, but also bond between the schools’ members. I hope that I will have the opportunity to attend more conferences and events like the day, and eventually attend as one of the presenters.

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