Student in focus

Amy Li, PhD Candidate

Image of Amy Li

My research is primarily concerned with the mechanisms by which genetic mutations in Myosin Binding Protein C, a contractile protein, causes heart failure. Myosin binding protein C is involved in about half of all cases of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy with over 300 mutations identified so far.

My research strongly implicates this gene as a key regulator of normal cardiac function. It modulates both the force and speed of contraction and relaxation under a range of conditions, analogous to the break and accelerator of a car. However, we still do not understand the molecular basis of its actions, and this inhibits the development of potential therapies.

During my PhD with Prof. Cris dos Remedios in the Discipline of Anatomy, I was provided with the opportunity to acquire new techniques at the University of North Texas (Dr. J Borejdo), University of California San Francisco (Dr. R Cooke), and the University of Vermont (Dr. D Warshaw). As a consequence, in July 2015, I will begin training as a post-doctoral fellow in Dr. Warshaw’s laboratory where I will learn single molecule techniques that should answer some of the above questions.

My ultimate goal is to find a balance between research, teaching human anatomy, and a healthy lifestyle. I enjoy running, catching up on the latest novels, good coffee, and tasting new wines and beers. I believe it is important to find a balance between research and life.


Jia Hao Yeo, PhD Candidate

Jia Hao Yeo

Since graduating with a Diploma and training in Laboratory Medical Sciences, in Singapore, I wanted to learn flow cytometry. When I started my studies at the University of Sydney (in the second year of my Science degree), I contact Dr Stuart Fraser and was accepted as a volunteer student in his lab. I enjoyed the research work I carried out with Dr Fraser and was glad to be accepted in his laboratory first as an Honours student and now as a PhD candidate.

The purpose of my research was to investigate between Erythroblastic Islands (EBI) and marophages results in the formation of mature red blood cells (RBC). Using fluorescent marker to determine DNA/RNA content (DRAQ5) and fluorescent antibodies against a variety of cellular epitopes, I developed a novel flow cytometric method to characterize and separate erythroid populations. I was also able to identify novel adhesions regulators of EBI and blood development.

In my downtime, I enjoy relaxing and catching up on sleep. I also enjoy trying new cooking recipes.


Bianca McCarthy, PhD Candidate

Bianca McCarthy

Leaving the glitz and glamour of the beauty and personal care industry and swapping it for university life was not a decision taken lightly. After all, I had spent the past few years traveling domestically and internationally working with many well-known brands to conceptualise new skin and hair care ranges, formulate prototypes, and oversee the manufacture. However, coming across the work of Professor Rebecca Mason and Dr Katie Dixon of the University of Sydney’s School of Medical Sciences spoke to me because of my personal interest in sun care, especially within the context of formulation chemistry. Their research examines the role of Vitamin D and related compounds in protecting the skin from UV radiation. There is strong evidence to suggest that the biologically active steroid hormone, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D protects skin cells following UV exposure. To what extent and through which mechanisms are still yet to be fully elucidated; this is what we will be working towards.

I haven't been able to let go of my passion entirely and I currently sit on various committees through the Australian Society of Cosmetic Chemists and work at IMCD, a global distributor of specialty personal care raw materials. My goal is to combine the knowledge from our group and collaborators with the skills I have learnt from industry to improve overall health and well-being.


Runsen (Vincent) Jin, PhD Candidate

Runsen (Vincent) Jin

I am an international exchange PhD student from Shanghai Jiaotong University China, currently working in the Department of Pathology and Bosch Institute, under the supervision of Professor Des R. Richardson. My research focuses on the function and mechanisms of the iron-regulated metastasis suppressor NDRG1 in tumor progression and metastasis.

As we all know, cancer remains a formidable health burden throughout the world. However, the results of current treatments are not very satisfactory, especially for late-stage patients. Our study has showed that the iron-regulated metastasis suppressor NDRG1 inhibits the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) that plays a key role in metastasis, as well as the TGF-beta and Wnt/beta-catenin pathways. Elucidating the molecular mechanisms that underlie the anti-metastatic effects of NDRG1 may lead to the development of new therapies to inhibit cancer metastasis.

I have always been interested in medicine and fascinated by the body and how it works. Our medical research about cancers will definitely help people to fight against the disease. I strongly believe that we would conquer all cancers someday!

In my spare time, I love swimming, listening to classical music, surfing on the Internet and doing outdoor activities with friends. It’s great to enjoy the beautiful sunshine in Sydney.


Sivaraman Purushothuman, PhD Candidate

Siva Purushothuman

My topic of interest lies in neuroprotection in age-related degenerative diseases affecting the central nervous system (CNS). Currently, there is no viable and safe treatment for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. We are currently trialling two neuroprotectants- dietary saffron and photobiomodulation (near-infra red light) to tackle the core of the degenerative process in these diseases which is understood to be blood capillary breakdown and oxidative stress. Early studies in mouse models show promising results.

While helping out in aged care homes I realised how fortunate I was. That is when I then decided that I wanted to make a difference in the field of gerontology. I believe I can use my passion in medical research where it really matters the most.

I love the outdoors and sports. So when I am not in the lab, I would be most probably bushwalking and camping or having fun at the football fields. Sydney has the perfect blend of everything.