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Westmead launches undergraduate opportunities

22 May 2017
Ambitious goals for medical science projects at Westmead

The University of Sydney officially launched more than 100 applied medical science projects at the  Westmead precinct and an applied medical sciences major, a new study option taught entirely at Westmead, commencing in 2018. 

On Friday May 19 the University of Sydney officially launched more than 100 applied medical science projects at the University of Sydney’s Westmead precinct. 

The event also celebrated the launch of an applied medical sciences major, a new study option taught entirely at Westmead, commencing in 2018. 

Improving the success rate of human organ transplants, helping people cope with sleep disorders, stopping the transmission of HIV and exploring effective treatments for Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis are just some of the ambitious goals of the medical science projects available to University of Sydney honours students at Westmead.

The projects are offered as part of the dedicated honours program in medical science which commenced this year and is taught wholly at Westmead, one of the world's largest health and medical research precincts.

Amellia Scerri, a current honours student, and her supervisor Dr Dinny Graham.

Amellia Scerri, a current honours student, with her supervisor Dr Dinny Graham from the Westmead Institute for Medical Research.

“Westmead is one of the few places in the world where I can undertake this research so it is a unique chance to develop skills in this area,” said Amellia Scerri, a current honours student researching breast cancer treatments.

“Three quarters of women diagnosed with breast cancer are treated with endocrine therapies and a high proportion are cured," said Amellia’s supervisor Dr Dinny Graham, from the Westmead Institute for Medical Research. 

"For women whose cancers can’t be treated in this way their outlook is poor and the only option is chemotherapy. Our research is aimed at finding successful alternative treatments for women in this situation."

Student explaining a project at the event launch at Westmead.

Last year the Talented Students Program at Westmead also began offering project work and 26 students are currently enrolled. The studies include research to improve the survival of stem cells after heart transplantation and on how telomere maintenance mechanisms become activated in cancer cells.

The event also announced eight scholarships, worth $55,000 in total, to support honours students and the launch of the applied medical sciences major. The new medical sciences option, available in 2018, positions students at the intersection of science and medicine, focusing on major global health issues such as infection, cancer, inflammatory and immune diseases.

Students learn how approaches to the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of human disease are developed and tested before being applied. Their training includes developing skills in big data and clinical sciences. 

Dr Michael Spence, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney, said, "The honours program and new major in applied medical science at Westmead are harnessing the expertise and specialised facilities of the research institutes and hospitals of the area to educate our future scientific leaders."

With these programs we are addressing crucial health issues at the same time as creating new employment opportunities for scientists in Western Sydney.
Dr Michael Spence, University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor

Professor Trevor Hambley, Dean of the Faculty of Science at the University of Sydney, said, “The enthusiastic uptake of these programs is evidence students recognise the quality of the opportunities on offer.

"They are made possible by the world-class expertise of medical science staff based at Westmead; researchers such as Professor Tony Cunningham, internationally recognised for his research on the immunobiology of HIV and herpes viruses and on vaccines, and Associate Professor Tracy Bryan, celebrated for her breakthrough research on human tumours.”

Friday’s event also marked the recent creation of The Sydney Health Data Coalition at Westmead, a major centre for translational data science research and its application.

Its research includes using data analysis to: 

  • predict the readmission of adult patients with pathology results
  • investigate the possible differences in treatment outcomes following hospital admission for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children compared to other cultural groups
  • predict adverse outcomes of pre-term babies based on physiological and clinical data

About The Sydney Health Data Coalition:

The Sydney Health Data Coalition collaborates with Westmead Hospital and NSW Health Pathology, The Westmead Institute for Medical Research, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and the Children’s Medical Research Institute.

The Data Coalition’s latest achievements will be presented in August as part of the Sydney Ideas Westmead talks program.

The new undergraduate programs are part of the University's $500 million renewed investment in Westmead, including for new teaching, research and flexible work spaces in Westmead Hospital, the Kids Research Institute and the new Central Acute Services Building - a combined services building to be shared by Westmead Hospital and The Children's Hospital at Westmead.

One and a half floors of the new hospital building will become the centre of the University of Sydney at Westmead when it opens in 2020. The University is contributing over $45 million to the construction of the building, and is also a foundation partner with Western Sydney Local Health District and Sydney Children's Hospitals Network in the creation of the new Innovation Centre at Westmead, planned for completion by 2019.