A flying start for young MS researcher
researcher, Ms Katherine Sanders has got off to a flying start after receiving
an MS Research Australia postgraduate scholarship, funded by the Trish
Foundation, early in 2014.
the supervision of Associate Professor Lotti Tajouri at Bond University and
collaborating with Associate Professor Jeannette Lechner-Scott at the Hunter
Medical Research Institute in NSW, Ms Sanders is investigating the role of
microRNAs in the immune system in MS. MicroRNAs are molecules involved in
controlling genetic activity in different cell types and may reveal clues about
the biology of MS as well as potentially providing markers to track disease
activity and progression.
Ms Sanders was selected from a highly competitive field
to attend a Summer School on Genetics in
MS run by the European Committee for Treatment and Research in MS
was awarded an ECTRIMS international travel grant and a Bond University travel
award to support her attendance at the Summer School which was held in Tallinn,
Sanders reports that it was a whirlwind couple of days.
‘I had the
opportunity to hear from the world’s leading MS researchers about their progress
in understanding the role of genetics in MS, and to discuss with them the
future directions of projects in this field. Getting to know my peers and their
research interests was a highlight of the course.’
‘I gave a poster
presentation of a pilot project I recently conducted on a DNA insert found in
the progesterone receptor gene. We hypothesized that this insert may be
associated with women who relapse during pregnancy, though we were unable to
come to a clear conclusion due to small sample size. I received great feedback
from the course participants on how this avenue of investigation may be further
Ms Sanders has also been awarded an educational grant by
the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in MS (ACTRIMS) to attend the
joint ECTRIMS/ACTRIMS conference in Boston, USA, in September 2014. She will
present another poster on her work on microRNAs at this conference.
These international experiences are vitally important for
young Australian researchers and allow them to develop contacts and
collaborations with overseas researchers to develop their careers and extend
In winning these additional travelling scholarships, Ms
Sanders has really confirmed the high potential that led to her selection for
an MS Research Australia Scholarship funded by the Trish Foundation and we look
forward seeing further exciting progress from her over the next few years.