"Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much."
I carried out my PhD at Johnson and Johnson Research with Greg Arndt and Ian Dawes and received my award from The University of New South Wales in 2006. During my PhD we used long dsRNA as a potential tool to regulate genes in mammalian cells (FEBS Lett: 2004 Aug 27;573(1-3):127-34). Further to this, we developed a dual promoter cassette to express siRNAs in mammalian cells (BMC Biotechnol. 6;3:21).
I left Johnson and Johnson Research after my PhD and spent 7 years undertaking post-doctoral research at University of Sydney and The Centenary Institute. During my postdoc at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Sydney University, working with Prof Chris O’Brien and A/Prof. Barbara Rose, we publish several studies on miRNAs in head and neck cancer (Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2007 Jun 22;358(1):12-7). In a subsequent study we further showed that miRNAs were dysregulated in salivary tumors and the PLAG1 gene was susceptible to miRNA regulation (Int J Cancer. 2009, 15;124(12):2855-63).
In 2010, I was awarded a 3 year UTS Chancellors Fellowship to explore the use of ncRNAs as bio-markers in cancer and in 2013, I started my own independent team at UTS.
PhD Student & Australian RTS & TCRN Scholar
Meredith graduated with a Bachelor of Forensic Biology in Biomedical Science from the University of Technology, Sydney in 2016. During her honours year, Meredith developed an interest in the dysregulation of cellular processes which result in disease, with a particular interest in miRNA to miRNA regulation. Meredith is a huge star wars fans and is also a hot chocolate connoisseur!
PhD Student & Australian Endevour Fellow
Dayna graduated with a Bachelor in Forensic Biology and Biomedical science from the University of Technology Sydney in 2016. Dayna joined the team in 2017 and is currently working on a project which explores the association between HPV16 and the expression of non-coding RNAs, such as miRNAs, in oral cancers. Dayna enjoys a good painting and chilling out in the mountains...woohoo!
Samantha Khoury PhD (Visiting PostDoc)
Samantha is an Australian Federation of Graduate Women Fellow who joined the group as an honors student, graduating with first class honors. Her PhD (awarded 2018) was focused on discovering novel small RNA biomarkers for the rapid and early diagnosis of head and neck cancers. Samantha's work has already identified a suite of diagnostic serum miRNAs which are currently being tested in patients with oral cancer.
Her interest for biomarker discovery saw her attend the Wellcome Trust Advanced Course: Functional Genomics and Systems Biology. She hopes to use miRNA Seq to further characterise the expression of these small RNAs in other subsets of head and neck cancers. Click here to read more about Samantha's research
Capstone and Intern Students
PhD Student & TCRN funded scholar
Fiona graduated with a Bachelor in Forensic Science at Bond University. In May, 2017, she joined the Tran Lab as an Honorary Research Associate. Her research explores the application of saliva-based small RNA biomarkers in head and neck squamous cell carcinomas. Fiona loves animals and has a pet bird, Sid!
An integrative approach to tissue-specific effects of microRNA regulatory networks
Supervised by Dr. Margarida Gama-Carvalho, BioISI and Dr. Nham Tran, UTS.
RNA Biology and Bioinformatics - Gama Lab
Biosystems & Integrative Sciences Institute
Faculty of Sciences/ University of Lisboa
The study of F.Hepatic miRNAs and their regulation of the mammalian immune system
Supervised by Dr. Sheila Donnelly, UTS and Dr. Nham Tran, UTS.
Helminth Biology Lab
School of Life Sciences, Faculty of Science
The University of Technology Sydney, Australia
Matt is studying Engineering (Biomedical ) and Business (Finance). He is working on a data viz project using the TCGA and PowerBI to generate living data maps.
Matt works in a bottle shop during most of his time at uni. Matt would like to work in Data / Business Analysis. and the ideal holiday for him is to go snowboarding. His saviour during lock down was playing rocket league with friends.
Richard is a final year biomedical student. His is working on designing and prototyping affordable PCR Microfluidics chips using PMMA for use in a Point-of-Care setting. He is exploring different materials and channel design to create a PCR chip. He would like to pursue a career in medical devices.
In his spare time, Richard is a trained barista, foodie and a huge fan of Japanese culture.
Pamela Ajuyah PhD
Pamela started her PhD in 2012 having just finished her honors at The University of Sydney. She graduated with first class honors and was awarded a Australian Postgraduate Award to pursue a PhD in miRNAs. Pamela's interest in small RNAs started in undergraduate studies when she was awarded two University of Sydney Summer scholarships (2009, 2010). This allowed her to work in research labs focusing on miRNA themes. Her project was centered on the role of two miRNAs and their co-operative regulation to a tumor suppressor gene important in head and neck cancers.
In 2012, Pam was awarded a EMBL travel scholarship to attend and present her work at the 2012 PhD symposium in Heidelberg Germany. In 2013 , she was awarded the BioInfoSummer travel grant, Translational Cancer Research Network travel scholarship, UKRNA and the Lorne Genome student travel bursaries. She is also the recipient of the TCRN PhD Top-up award. Pamela was awarded her PhD in early 2017.
Bella Pham - Biomedical Engineer
Bella spent a year in our lab as a Capstone Research student. Bella was engaged in building a microgravity device to study the effects of gravity on cancer cells. She us now working as a biomedical engineer.
Manali Sawant - Biomedical Engineer
Manali completed her Diploma in Medical Electronics with a focus on Biomedical Engineering. Manali is interested in the hardware of medical equipment and is working on designing portable and robust PCR machines.
Taylah is a student at the University of Technology, Sydney, currently studying a Bachelors of Biomedical Engineering and Bachelors of Business Management. She is currently working on the gravitational device RPM and how zero gravity affects changes to mammalian cells
Nick is currently studingy Bachelor of engineering (Electrical) at University of Technology. He has involved in a project for Vivid -THE LIMINAL ZONE (Lighting design and decoration) and as a hobby, Nick likes to tinker with electronic projects.
He is currently working on the PCR POC device in the area or wireless communication.
Leonie Herson Masters Student
Leonie graduated with a Bachelor of Medical Science in 2015; during which she completed an undergraduate project under the joint supervision of Prof. Stella Valenzuela and Dr. Bruce Cornell at Surgical Diagnostics where she learned how to develop and utilize artificial lipid bilayer membranes as well as create 3D lipid models.
It was at the same time that she also commenced her studies in 2D and 3D animation, where she learned how to use professional animation software such as Maya, leading to an interest in biomedical animation. Leonie is also an experienced freelance Scientific Illustrator and has recently won an award for her work in the annual VizbiPlus Challenge competition. Leonie is a collaborative student from the Valenzuela lab from School of Life Sciences, UTS.
Colin Guevarra - Biomedical Engineer
Colin spent a year in our lab as a Capstone Research project. He research project involved designing and building a miniature PCR device.
Shanti is a final year Biomedical Engineering student, working on The Rugged PCR for use as a diagnostic tool to test for waterborne species in remote areas.
Chloe is currently a final mechatronics engineering student and has an interest in assistive and diagnostic technologies. She is currently working on designing a qPCR machine for POC applications.
Marcus is a final and 5th-year Mechanical Engineering/Medical Science student. He has an interest in mechanical design and enjoys prototyping and exploring different design concepts.
He will be undertaking his capstone project on the design of a low-cost Random Positioning Machine (RPM) aimed at understanding the effects of gravity on cancer cells. In his spare time, Marcus enjoys skiing and the outdoors.