Star turn for Fresh Scientists

Flinders researchers in cancer and sleep apnoea will be part of the annual Fresh Science competition in Adelaide next week.

Early-career researchers Laura Gell and Dr Katherine Morel are among the 2017 Fresh Scientists from South Australia who will go into the event to receive coaching and media training to share their ‘stories of discovery’ with school students and the public.

On 8 November, the 10 “Freshie’ scientists will present a one-hour forum at the South Australian Museum for about 200 school students and then give their brief research summaries in a fun, informal way at the Old Lion Hotel, North Adelaide from 6pm. Tickets are free, but bookings are essential here

PhD student and biomedical engineer Laura Gell, who works at the Medical Device Research Institute at Tonsley and Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health, recently participated in the Present Around the World competition.

She is studying breathing and muscle activity around airway collapse and reopening in order to identify key changes in upper airway muscle activity that can help to stabilise breathing.

More than a million Australians suffer from sleep apnoea, repeatedly stopping breathing during sleep.

Understanding these mechanisms is vital in creating new, desperately needed treatment options for obstructive sleep apnoea,” she says.

Dr Morel, from the molecular medicine and pathology group at the Flinders Centre for the Innovation in Cancer, is working on ways to limit the radiation-induced damage to near-by healthy tissues in patients undergoing radiotherapy cancer treatment.

“My work shows that a naturally occurring compound called Parthenolide can protect healthy tissues from radiation-induced damage, while at the same time, doubling the cancer killing ability of radiotherapy. The result? Happier, healthier patients with fewer damaging side-effects,” she says.

Past Flinders ‘Freshie’ scientists who have been selected include Dr Mona Awadalla and Dr Stephanie Shepheard in 2016, and Dr Justin Chalker in 2015.

Flinders, the SA Museum, the University of Adelaide and the University of SA are partners of Fresh Science SA.

Other young scientists to present this year are Bhabananda Biswas (UniSA) ,  Laura Eadie (SAHMRI) and Jenna Crowe-Riddell, Mehdi Jafarian, Jiawen Li, Lewis Mitchell, Kathryn Palasis and Katharina Richter (Adelaide University).

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