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Focus Forward: Closing the Chapter on the 2023 Honours Year.

This year, we had the privilege of hosting two truly remarkable Honours students, Evelyn Yang and Marissa Ellis, at Clear Vision Research. Their dedication to research has been nothing short of inspiring, and we find ourselves immensely proud of their accomplishments. As they embark on the next phase of their academic and professional journeys, we extend our heartfelt best wishes for the bright futures that undoubtedly await them. In their own words, here is a glimpse of their reflections on the Honours experience and their aspirations for the future.

Marissa Ellis

This year I’ve been doing my Honours with Clear Vision Research (CVR), primarily working under the supervision of Dr. Adrian Cioanca and A/Prof Riccardo Natoli. My work this year focused on the wet or neovascular form of AMD, aiming to further understand the molecular basis of the pathologies driving the disease. I also spent some time combining an animal model of the disease, new to our lab, with our previously used model of voluntary exercise, to understand the therapeutic potential of exercise against the progression of this disease.

I had a wonderful year learning amongst the group and am very grateful for all of the support this year. Next year I don’t plan to run too far away from the lab, staying on as a Research Officer to further research some of the projects I have been working on this year, as well as starting postgraduate medicine at the ANU. I’m looking forward to combining my research skills with clinical understanding over the coming years. Honours this year, whilst challenging in many ways, has been very rewarding, and I am grateful for all of the research skills and experimental techniques I have learnt. The lab environment within CVR is supportive and exciting, and I feel very honoured to be able to grow our understanding of AMD with such an incredible team.

Evelyn Yang

It feels like just yesterday that Marissa and I were setting up our desks at Clear Vision Research and getting ready to go on this journey. It surprised me how fast this year flew by, and I am amazed by the wealth of knowledge and experience I have gained throughout these past 10 months of my honours year. I was fortunate enough to be welcomed into the CVR family to investigate extracellular vesicles from red blood cells (RBC-EV) as a protective mechanism against age-related macular degeneration (AMD), supervised by Dr Yvette Wooff and Associate Professor Riccardo Natoli. I demonstrated the protective effects of RBC-EV incubated with supplements that reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, and developed a novel pipeline that optimised EV loading. It was a privilege to undertake a project with significant clinical implications, and I am ecstatic to contribute to a growing body of AMD research. I am thankful for the support from everyone at Clear Vision Research, especially my supervisors Yvette and Riccardo, without whom this project would not have been possible.

In 2018, I moved from New Zealand to Canberra to pursue neuroscience research, and I feel like I have come full circle by rounding off my undergraduate years with a project that aligns closely with my interests. I am glad to have the skills I learned during honours under my belt for my career journey, and I am excited to see what the future holds!


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