Two IMU final year pharmacy students, Jin-Ying Wong and Zhao Yin Ng collaborated with two premier Universities based at NSW, Australia for their undergraduate research project: The University of Newcastle/Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) and the Graduate School of Health, the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). Their research project focused on assessing the potential of nano-formulations containing Curcumin in the treatment of asthma and cancer. The collaborative research team include Dr Dinesh Kumar C (IMU), Dr Jithendra Panneerselvam (IMU), Dr Thiagarajan Madheswaran (IMU), Dr Kamal Dua (UTS/HMRI, UoN), Prof Phil Hansbro (HMRI, UoN), A/Prof Mary Bebawy (UTS), Dr Nicole Hansbro (HMRI, UoN) and Dr Alan Hsu (HMRI, UoN). Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) is a world class institute with reputable medical researchers that aims to deliver a patient-focused translational research for better health solutions. HMRI focuses on start-up studies and promotes flow information and innovation between scientists, clinicians and public health professionals. As pharmacy students, this has really captured our students’ attention as it involves the application of knowledge and discoveries gained to clinical and community settings. Working in this institution helped to further enhance their interest in the development of effective therapies for the benefit of mankind. Jin-Ying and Zhao Yin relate their experience here.
“Our work at HMRI was focused and well aligned to the, ‘Viruses, Infections/Immunity, Vaccines and Asthma’ (VIVA) research programme. During our stay, we were fortunate to have acquired various laboratory skills from Dr Alan Hsu in both the planning and execution stages of our project such as cell culture and various molecular biology techniques. It was a valuable learning experience, especially in the laboratory, where we were introduced to several state-of-the-art facilities and equipment available there. Our time in HMRI also exposed us to the importance of compliance to Good Laboratory Practices (GLP).
Furthermore, we were fortunate enough to have the experts of this field give us their time in guiding and imparting their knowledge to us along the completion of our project. Not only that, but also we were pleased by the warmth and willingness of our colleagues in sharing their expertise and knowledge while shadowing them during their experiments. We were thrilled to conduct our research in sophisticated and well-equipped laboratories using advanced testing facilities under the guidance of A/Prof Mary Bebawy (Head, Laboratory of Cancer Cell Biology and Therapeutics) and Dr Kamal Dua at Graduate School of Health, The University of Technology Sydney (UTS). UTS is a dynamic and innovative university in central Sydney. For the third year, the University of Technology Sydney has been named as the top young university in Australia in the Times Higher Education (THE) Young University Rankings, this year leaping six places in the global ranking to 15th in the world.
Our project involved testing our formulations on cultured cancer cell lines (HBEC, A549 and MCF-7). Most interestingly, we had the chance to use the Tali® Image-Based Cytometer, which is a cutting-edge benchtop assay tool to analyse the cellular activities. With that, we were able to gain more experience in analysis of our result data. We are very appreciative of A/Prof Mary Bebawy, Dr Kamal Dua and Jack Taylor for giving us this chance and a great deal of support during our stay at UTS.
Overall, this was truly an exceptional learning opportunity and we would like to thank everyone involved throughout the way. It would be an honour for us to work together again. This experience allowed us, as pharmacy students, to explore our interests in the research field and has opened our future goals to one of the many career options for pharmacy students. This was one of the best learning experiences that we had and we are greatly thankful to IMU and all our supervisors who made it all happen.”