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End of an honours year

This year the CVR lab took on two exceptionally talented honours students who certainly added to the friendly, lighthearted work environment. We asked them to provide a reflection on their year in the lab (because its not enough to just write a thesis!).

Pranay Gulati

It seems like just last week that we were being introduced to the lab, but 10 months and a little over 10,000 words later, we’re officially done with honours. This year, under the supervision of Associate Professor Riccardo Natoli and Dr Yvette Wooff, I had the opportunity to explore microRNA, powerful gene regulators, as a novel therapeutic strategy for retinal degenerations such as Age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This project allowed me to combine my interests in fundamental biology and clinical neuroscience, addressing a topic with significant global health implications. I was able to identify particular molecules that can help us better characterise and target the complex pathways involved in AMD that have, so far, eluded treatments. As with all research, this was only made possible by the support of everyone in the Clear Vision Research Lab, in particular my supervisors, Riccardo and Yvette. They ensured that the most challenging and demanding year of my degree, was also the most supported and rewarding. If I had to give future honour students 1 cliché piece of advice, it would be to not forget to enjoy the research in all the chaos of honours and thesis writing.

Alex Qin

To lead on from Pranay, it really did feel like yesterday when I sent that email asking to be a part of the Clear Vision Lab. Honours has been a ride to remember, and I'm glad to say I'm coming out of honours far more experienced and learned than I had been before. My project was supervised by Dr Adrian Cioanca and A/Prof Riccardo Natoli and was focused on identifying and characterising the molecular and cellular properties of a family of transcription factors known as C/EBPs in the context of retinal degenerations. Coming from a largely molecular biology-based background, it was an absolute honour to be able to learn from the local tech genius, Adrian Cioanca, and use many of the computational skills he taught me throughout my project and formed the backbone of much of my final thesis. Combining these methods with traditional molecular biology work, I showed that the C/EBP family was strongly associated with the onset of retinal degenerations and decreasing the level of C/EBPs presented an avenue of treatment for currently incurable retinal degenerations.

This project would certainly not have been possible without the guidance of my supervisors and the funding provided by the Clear Vision Lab. I extend my gratitude and thanks to all those who have helped me along this honours journey.


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