While many university students spend their summer break enjoying a bit of downtime, Will Kermode spent his working in a laboratory.
Will was the recipient of a $7500 vacation scholarship from MS Research Australia and MSWA which allowed him to spend 10 weeks working at the Telethon Kids Institute.
Under the supervision of Telethon Kids inflammation researchers Professor Prue Hart and Terry McGonigle, Will’s project was looking into how UV exposure can dampen the immune response in the body, and how the bone marrow may be responsible for it.
‘This is relevant to a condition such as multiple sclerosis, when immune cells attack nerves,’ Will says. ‘In particular, we were looking into a molecule that has previously been linked to the effects of UV on the skin and how it may be acting on the bone marrow.’
‘The findings will give more insight into the potential of phototherapy for treatment of multiple sclerosis, as well as provide ways in which drugs may be able to replicate or block the effects of UV radiation on the immune system.’
A third-year Bachelor of Biomedicine student at the University of Melbourne, Will says he was exposed to lots of different laboratory techniques during his time at Telethon Kids, including learning about flow cytometry and cell culture. He also presented his work to an audience of colleagues from the Inflammation Laboratory. He says it was hard work, but really rewarding and enjoyable.
‘It was a great insight into what medical research is like,’ Will explains. ‘I’m not 100% sure what I want to do after I graduate, but I’m looking to apply for either honours or medical school next year, depending on how everything pans out.
‘I’m definitely looking to become involved in medical research in the future. I really enjoyed my time at Telethon Kids so medical research is something I will be considering.’
‘I’d like to thank everyone in the Inflammation Lab for making this experience really enjoyable, particularly Professor Prue Hart and Terry McGonigle for their assistance and knowledge over the 10 weeks. I also want to thank Multiple Sclerosis Research Australia for providing me with this opportunity.’