From cancers to infectious and neurodegenerative diseases, no topic was left unexplored when more than 50 students from Griffith’s Eskitis Institute for Drug Discovery converged for their annual Student Symposium.
This event provides students with the opportunity to showcase their current research projects and learn from each other about the molecular mechanisms which drive disease, as well as emerging therapies.
The symposium was hosted by second year PhD student Steven Bentley who has uncovered several promising leads in his research to find a genetic trigger for Parkinson’s disease in several Queensland families.
“Most people who develop Parkinson’s disease have no family history of the condition,” he said, “however, one in four patients has some family history and 16 per cent have a close relative with the disease,” Steven said.
“In rare situations the history of the disease and its pattern of inheritance through the family tree suggest a substantial genetic component to causality. By identifying and understanding how the genetic changes affect the brain, we can better understand the cause of Parkinson’s disease and potentially develop new therapies.”
“Our results so far have revealed several promising leads, which we hope will soon be confirmed as a new gene for familial Parkinson’s disease.”
Co-host and 2nd year PhD student Hannah Leeson’s research explores a phagocytic role for P2X7 receptors during adult hippocampal neurogenesis – the way in which new neurons are continually produced in the hippocampus of the brain.
She believes that uncovering molecular mechanisms is essential for understanding how neurogenesis and regeneration occurs in the adult brain.
Third year PhD student, Deborah Sneddon is developing a targeting compound to identify hypoxic tumours.
By utilising the carbonic anhydrase IX biomarker found on hypoxic tumours, a compound detectable by positron emission tomography (PET) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) will attach and allow for accurate detection of the tumour’s position.
The Student Symposium gives students the opportunity to present their research and discuss ideas with their peers.
The event was sponsored by Royal Australian Chemical Institute, Bioscientific Pty, Eppendorf, Cullens Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys, Merck, Fisher Adams Kelly, Associate Professor Andreas Hofmann, the Structural Chemistry Group at Eskitis, Griffith University Postgraduate Students Association, the Eskitis Institute and the Eskitis Student Club.