My research career began with a stroke of luck in high school. In grade 11, I took part in the Australian Brain Bee Challenge, a neuroscience competition for high school students. As a state finalist, I was invited to complete a small research project at the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI). I became captivated by the neuroscience I observed at QBI, and felt compelled to continue my project as a research higher degree.  

My PhD has been a study of nerve regeneration, conducted in the laboratory of Associate Professor Massimo Hilliard. We use a microscopic species of worm called C. elegans to understand how damaged nerves can undergo repair following injury. The nerves in these worms have a striking ability to regenerate, and identifying the underlying molecular mechanisms could lead to novel therapies for patients with nerve injuries. The highlight of my PhD was contributing to a paper we published in Nature in 2015. It was an incredible experience to be part of this research team, and to contribute to discoveries that have such exciting implications for the clinical setting.

The MBBS/PhD was the perfect avenue to pursue my passion for research while completing my medical degree. The intercalated program is undoubtedly challenging, and has at times felt like an impossible exercise in time management! However, I would recommend it to any medical student with a serious interest in research.  It has ultimately been very rewarding, and is a unique chance to pursue research and develop the associated skill set while in medical school. 

I’m looking forward to starting my internship in 2018 and consolidating my clinical skills, before pursuing a career that combines research with clinical practice. At this stage, my dream is a career in neurology that allows me to translate newly-discovered techniques in nerve repair to the bedside.