Finding cures for children's genetic diseases


Harvard researcher encourages others to apply for CMRI's PhD Research Award


When Aaron Moye arrived at Harvard Medical School it may have seemed a world away from his PhD studies at Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI) in Sydney, but in fact, he found that the Institute’s reputation had travelled far across the globe.

“CMRI was an amazing environment to conduct my PhD training,’’ he said. “CMRI's collaborative nature, the structure of its PhD training program, and exposure to world experts in various fields provided the perfect foundation for success. CMRI scientists have an excellent reputation amongst my current colleagues at Harvard.’’

It was 2012 when Aaron first learned of CMRI, while looking for labs that studied telomerase and telomere biology. He was particularly drawn to the work of CMRI Director, Professor Roger Reddel, and CMRI’s Head of the Cell Biology Unit, Associate Professor Tracy Bryan.

“I attended a physiology lecture as an undergraduate student, which discussed telomerase and its role in 85% of cancers,’’ Aaron said. “I knew immediately this was a topic I wanted to study. I read some of Tracy's and Roger's papers and attended a research fair at Sydney University that CMRI was part of. Fortuitously, Tracy was one of the people representing CMRI that day. The rest is history I suppose.’’

Aaron stayed at CMRI until 2017, before taking up a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at Harvard Medical School in the Department of Genetics, with the Boston Children's Hospital Stem Cell Program and Department of Hematology/Oncology, and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.

Reflecting back on his time at CMRI, Aaron says what made it stand out was being in a “world-class environment, with a collaborative nature and exposure to experts in their field’’.

“I received a stellar education about the scientific process, performing robust and well-controlled experiments, and presenting my research to scientific and lay audiences during my PhD training at CMRI,’’ he said.

"I also gained a deeper appreciation of the strength of basic research while at CMRI. My scientific motivation has always been to discover new pathways to improve our ability to treat or prevent disease. The majority of clinically-relevant breakthroughs have their origins in curiosity-driven basic research.

"You need to understand what drives a disease or biological process at a basic level, then through subsequent investigation, identify new, clinically relevant targets in disease. My PhD training at CMRI solidified in my mind the important relationship between basic research and highly consequential clinical breakthroughs.’’

Beyond science, Aaron said he personally enjoyed the ethos of CMRI.

“CMRI has an amazing institutional culture. The morning tea events, student social events, and the excitement of Jeans for Genes Day and associated events are noteworthy examples. The lessons I learned and friends I made while at CMRI will stay with me long into my career.’’

Children’s Medical Research Institute offers a PhD Research Award in Basic Medical Research. Applications are accepted throughout the year. To find out more visit: