Finding cures for children's genetic diseases

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CMRI student awarded opportunity of a lifetime

20/Oct/2014  

It’s not often a PhD student is awarded the opportunity to meet and listen to the findings of world-class researchers in Belgium.

And it wouldn’t have been possibly for Children’s Medical Research Institute’s Omesha Perera if she wasn’t awarded the 2014 Star Alliance Travel Scholarship.

Omesha is in her final year studying with CMRI’s Cell Biology Unit.

Her focus has been on an enzyme called telomerase, which is active in 85-90% of all human cancers. 

“Activation of this enzyme basically allows cancer cells to become immortal, therefore if we can gain more knowledge about this enzyme and all its functions, we can hopefully develop therapies to selectively kill cancer cells, without harming healthy cells,” Omesha said.

“In my field of research, there is only one major international conference every year, where all the leading scientists in the field gather to share their new findings.” 

Thanks to the Star Alliance Travel Scholarship, Omesha was able to attend the EMBO conference held in Belgium.

“I was also given the chance to share my current findings in the form of an oral presentation, and receive informative feedback from the leaders in the field,” she said.

“Furthermore, I was also able to personally meet a number of these scientists and find out about the cutting edge research that is happening in their labs, as well as get their perspectives and opinions about my current project.

“I also met a number of fellow PhD students from different countries, who are in the same boat as I am, and these conversations have certainly made me more confident on where I would like to conduct my post-doctoral training.

“It’s also very likely that these people may be potential future collaborators, and so getting the opportunity to meet them was a definite positive.

“Attending this conference allowed me to get a much better understanding of the level of research that is required in order to make the contributions that really make a difference.

“It gave me the opportunity to really see what’s happening in the telomere/telomerase field, and also see what needs to be done in the future to make the discoveries that positively impact future generations.”