Talented Australian scientist’s return brings knowledge and skills back home
16 May 2008
One of Australia’s brightest young scientists has returned to Australia to not only continue his research, but to share the successes of his international findings with his home country.
Dr Jeff Holst, who studied at the University of Technology Sydney and the University of NSW before heading to the United States to complete post-doctoral work at the highly acclaimed St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, returned to Sydney to build on his successful research career.
As the science and medical industry in Australia rue the loss of many of our talented young minds to international institutions and academics ponder the future impact of the declining number of students studying science, Sydney’s Centenary Institute is benefiting from Dr Holst’s return and the knowledge he brings with him.
Dr Holst’s hard work at St Jude’s has recently been recognised with the publication of his investigations into the regulation and development of T cells and the impact of these processes on the progression of autoimmune disease in the prestigious international journal Nature Immunology.
“We studied the complex switch-like components in T cells that allow them to control their development, education and function. We found that the large numbers of these switches in T cells allow for very small changes, acting more like a dial than a switch, helping to avoid autoimmunity. Knowing more about how this process works will allow closer investigation of how autoimmune diseases start,” explains Dr Holst.
One of the most exciting flow-on effects of this research is Dr Holst’s ability to bring this knowledge back to Australia to share with other researchers.
“My wife and I had always planned to return to Australia at some point, this is home, but something that has been really rewarding is sharing the knowledge I gained from my time overseas,” Dr Holst explained. “I am working with colleagues at Centenary currently investigating diseases such as cancer and the regulation of the immune system to introduce this new technology and drive their research even further ahead.”
Dr Holst’s continues his research with Professor John Rasko at the Centenary Institute and has now turned his focus to cancer, with support from a Cancer Institute NSW Fellowship. He was also recently awarded a Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia grant for the next four years to investigate how prostate cancer cells increase their nutrient supply, examining ways to ‘starve the cancer’ by blocking nutrient uptake.
Centenary Institute Executive Director, Professor Mathew Vadas, said Centenary is focused on building the best available facilities and recruiting world renowned researchers to support our scientists.
“The key components of recruiting the best scientists, including those looking to return to Australia like Dr Holst, is the capacity to work with outstanding people with the infrastructure to support their work,” says Professor Vadas. “At Centenary we are expanding our capacity and building new facilities to support our researchers in this way which is crucial to their development.”
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
Erin Sharp, Communications Coordinator, the Centenary Institute
p: 02 9565 6118 m: 0431 029 215 e: