Sell yourself on paper, sell yourself in person

Broadly speaking, people with a PhD are considered highly skilled and trained. However, there is an assumption that we are ‘everyologists’ – skilled across all aspects of academic research, including how to best ‘sell’ ourselves to nail that great postdoc or job. But the question one has to ask is: are we good at selling ourselves on paper, and in person? Some of us are naturals, but it’s mostly learned behaviour – you need training!

The half-day, interactive professional development workshop being held at the Science Exchange, 55 Exchange Place, Adelaide on Tuesday 17th of November will explore what your CV and your ‘presence’ say about you. You will gain perspectives from an academic’s and professional recruiter’s point of view.

How do we create that winning CV that sets us apart from the rest? How do we nail that interview? In terms of the CV, we commonly use our supervisor’s or fellow students’ CVs to get ideas of what the key ingredients should be. But, does it reflect who we really are? I have seen hundreds of CVs – most are same, same. But when you come across a really ‘good’ one, it stands out. You sit up in your chair and take notice! The workshop will provide you with some tools to create a winning CV.

At interview, how does our language, body language and our social media presence inform the interviewer that you are ‘the one’? This is difficult, because in academic research, people are assessing you constantly -you are a walking potential candidate! Your next boss could be in the audience at the conference you are presenting at, or at the department seminar, and therefore it is important that you display professionalism at all times. We will also look at your social media presence – how does your image stand up? Future employers and recruiters often and quickly get an idea of you from the what they see in the public domain! We will look at what interviewers are really looking for. And, since we all know practice makes perfect… we get to practice interviews with one another!

The workshop will be interactive, fun, informal and relaxed. Get your questions answered by the workshop’s facilitators, who have seen literally hundreds of CVs and interviewed hundreds of candidates. Get their inside perspectives on how to ‘sell’ yourself!

Looking forward to seeing you there.

Dr Sarah Meachem
ASMR President Elect


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Join us for ASMR’s 54th National Scientific Conference!

The National Scientific Conference (NSC) is the flagship scientific meeting of the Australian Society for Medical Research (ASMR). This year from the 15-18th November in Adelaide NSC 2015 boasts a busy and vibrant schedule featuring presentations, poster sessions, the ASMR Annual Dinner, Professional Development, the Student Breakfast, several research awards, and the Indigenous Health Public Forum.

NSC 2015 – a unique and focused scientific conference

This year’s theme is Bugs, Bowels and Beyond: Innovations in Digestive Health and Disease Research. This unique and focused scientific conference will showcase the best and brightest scientists and clinicians within this exciting area of research. The microbiota within our gastrointestinal tract outnumbers our own cells by 10 to 1 and it seems intuitive that it must play an important part in influencing health and disease. Gastrointestinal health and disease is a major research strength within Australia. Australia-based scientists are leading the way in microbiome research, neurogastroenterology, gastrointestinal cancers, food and nutrition, pancreatic and liver diseases, gut motility and gastrointestinal inflammation. At this year’s NSC each of these themes has a dedicated session led by a world-renowned expert as an invited speaker.

Professional development and community advocacy

In addition to a packed scientific schedule this year’s delegates can also take advantage of our Professional Development workshop and Student Breakfast. A management consultant and psychologist, and a past ASMR president will facilitate our Professional Development workshop, with a focus on selling yourself on paper and in person. This year’s Student Breakfast will give students the rare opportunity of informal face-to-face careers advice and mentorship from our invited speakers, special guests and past ASMR presidents.

Network, socialise, collaborate and share knowledge

NSC 2015 is the perfect opportunity to gain the acknowledgement that your research deserves by forging new collaborations with the leading experts in this burgeoning field of research.

Luke Hesson

Dr Luke Hesson
ASMR Executive Director
NSC 2015 Convenor

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Entering an Era of Team Science: AHMRC 2014

The Australian Health and Medical Research Congress (AHMRC) will be held in Melbourne, from 16 – 19 November.  The theme of this meeting is ‘Transdiciplinary Research’ and the program features some of the medical research world’s best and brightest.

Transdisciplinary research is much more than a buzz word.  Around the world, government and non-government funding bodies are steering their resources towards larger, collaborative team grants.  Funding agencies see the enormous potential in transdisciplinary research (or team science) to maximise their investment in health and medical research, and facilitate translation into policy and practice.

To remain competitive in today’s research environment, scientists must be able to work with investigators from diverse disciplines, and develop boundary-crossing innovative methodologies.  And that’s the crux of AHMRC 2014 – it’s about skilling up scientists so that they have the confidence to write the ‘big picture’ grants and collaborate with researchers from completely different fields.

Whilst most of our successful, senior researchers have already developed broad, transdisciplinary networks, emerging scientists may not have had the opportunity to do so.  AHMRC 2014 will provide early career scientists and PhD student with insights and skills that will give them an edge in an increasingly competitive research environment.   The Congress organisers have shown great foresight in offering a complimentary student registration when laboratory heads or group leaders register for the meeting.

I look forward to seeing many of you in Melbourne in a few weeks time.

Professor Ian Frazer AC

Photograph of Prof Ian Frazer

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A (transdisciplinary) team approach to volatile analysis for rapid diagnostics

The volatile profile from the human body is considered to change with different disease states.  This has been exploited by researchers through the use of dogs to “sniff out” and diagnose disease, particularly for cancer detection.  My colleagues and I are attempting to achieve the same diagnostic capabilities as dogs, using man-made electronic nose technology.  Recently we have been able to produce superior results to dogs for accurate bladder cancer diagnoses by “sniffing” urine samples.

We can also use electronic nose technology and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry for analysing breath, stool and saliva samples.  The gastro-intestinal tract acts like a chemical factory producing a very wide range of volatile compounds (alcohols, ketones, esters, aromatic compounds), which to varying degrees can enter the blood stream where they can be chemically altered by the liver/other organs and then excreted by the lungs and into the urine via filtering through the kidneys.  Volatiles can also be biosynthesised within the body.

Ultimately, we hope to develop rapid diagnostics that can be applied to gastro-intestinal conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease; infectious diseases of the gut, such as hospital acquired infections; and, diseases of the urinary tract, including prostate and bladder cancer, as well as infections.

The work on volatile analysis for disease diagnosis involves a transdisciplinary team of clinicians, chemists, electronics and software experts, engineers to assist in electronic nose fabrication, statisticians and microbiologists.  It is always exciting – and sometimes challenging – working with such a diverse mix of experts.  The solutions we have achieved from transdisciplinary collaborations have ultimately made this approach worthwhile.  I look forward to sharing some more of my experience with you at the Australian Health and Medical Research Congress in Melbourne soon.


Norman Ratcliffe


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Tackling global health disparities through transdisciplinary research

It was with great pleasure that I accepted an invitation from the Australian Society for Medical Research to speak at their National Scientific Conference in November. I am truly excited to be coming to Australia (for the first time!) and I’m looking forward to being inspired by some of your best scientists and establishing new research collaborations.
The work my team and I conduct brings together engineering, cell biology and physiology to understand how cells sense, respond, and remodel their immediate mechanical and biochemical environments for repair and regeneration. Our work doesn’t stop there: our ultimate goal is to translate our findings to clinics domestically and internationally to impact global health disparities.

In this brief blog post I wanted to highlight some of the transdisciplinary work my group has been doing in HIV/AIDS research. While most people realise that the highest incidence in this disease is in sub-Saharan Africa, many are not aware that the rates are not too different for African-Americans in the United States. Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has transformed HIV-infection from a terminal diagnosis to a manageable chronic disease. HIV-infected individuals, however, have shown elevated incidence of heart attacks and strokes. This has even been reported in adolescents who were born with HIV and on ART from birth! Our work seeks to study human cardiovascular events due to HIV infection, and to use animal native artery studies to guide tissue engineered strategies and parse mechanisms that are viral protein mediated from those due to antiretroviral medication side effects. At the same time, as biomedical engineers, we also take into account the influence of mechanical forces (shear stress and blood flow) as well as biochemical mediators that all control cell behaviour.

We’ve also been addressing the need to develop affordable and reliable markers of adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART), particularly for resource limited settings such as those in South Africa and Ethiopia. This is extremely important to determine which patients are no longer responding to therapy, and will have other applications as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) rolls out to protect HIV-negative individuals at high risk from contracting the virus. Cost will be an important factor to regularly monitor patient adherence. We are currently trialling a system using our cathepsin zymography assay to monitor ART adherence, instead of the currently expensive method of mass spectrometry, or the inexpensive but error-prone method of patient surveys. Working with Dr Denise Evans at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, we have been tracking cathepsin activity in white blood cells from the day of diagnosis to 6, 12, and 24 months out in the same patients while they (hopefully) take their antiretroviral drug ‘cocktail’ regularly. These patients usually have had their cathepsin levels drop after either the six or twelve-month period, and has been a strong indicator of adherence using viral load as the gold standard. This is an excellent example of engineering, biochemistry, technology, AND epidemiology all converging to find solutions to difficult, but impactful problems. Watch this space!

I look forward to meeting many of you in Melbourne soon. All the best,

Manu O. Platt


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Support your ASMR – fostering transdisciplinary research in Australia since 1961

Medical research has transformed massively in the 40 years that I have been in the field. We are now working in bigger groups, across continents and across disciplines. To address the big health-related problems facing humanity, from the ground up, it’s vital to engage in transdisciplinary research. More than ever, medical researchers need to collaborate with scientists and professionals from other sectors and industries; we need to work together to address our national research priority areas.

One of the key objectives of the Australian Society for Medical Research (ASMR) is to bring different disciplines together at events like their annual National Scientific Conference. This gives the molecular biologists the opportunity to find common ground with the biochemists; it allows the virologists to meet the epidemiologists; and the geneticists can network with biomedical engineers.

This year, the ASMR will be holding their National Scientific Conference within the Australian Health and Medical Research Congress, 16 – 19 November at the Melbourne Convention Centre. Participation will broaden your perspective on what medical research really means in today’s research environment. I unreservedly recommend this conference to you, and encourage you to attend and support your ASMR.

Laureate Professor Peter Doherty AC FAA FRS

Peter's Photo

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Why you can’t afford to miss this meeting: AHMRC 2014

Have you had the opportunity to watch the promotional video for the upcoming Australian Health and Medical Research Congress (AHMRC), featuring Laureate Professor Peter Doherty? If not, I urge you to spend three and a half minutes doing so
(link here: )

In this video, Professor Doherty describes how the research landscape has changed dramatically over the course of his career. The era of transdisciplinary research – or ‘team science’ – is well and truly here. Transdisciplinary research brings together researchers and stakeholders from diverse disciplines to work towards solving a common scientific goal. It can involve professionals from fields not immediately recognised as having a role in medical research, such as physics, material science, mathematics and engineering.

Government and NGO funding bodies see the enormous potential of transdisciplinary research to maximise investment in health and medical research, and facilitate translation into policy and practice. To remain competitive in today’s research environment, scientists must be able to work with investigators from diverse disciplines, and develop boundary-crossing innovative methodologies.

AHMRC 2014 presents an opportunity for you to accelerate your research career! Learn how to engage in transdisciplinary research and fast-track your path to discovery. Congress will open on the afternoon of Sunday 16th November, with a panel discussion featuring internationally renowned experts in transdisciplinary research. From Monday 17th to Wednesday 19th November, symposia will cover the use of “omics” and bioinformatics in transdisciplinary research as well as innovations in this area and in fundamental research, in translation into prevention and therapeutic strategies, and in the epidemiology of chronic diseases. Other sessions range from nanoparticles to photobiology and cancer, cardiovascular disease, infectious disease, sleep and mental health, and indigenous health. The Congress program features several professional development workshops, a student breakfast session with Prof Peter Doherty and Prof Josef Penninger, and free oral presentations and poster sessions. For the first time, we are hosting a Congress dinner for all delegates to come together for a great night of food, wine and networking at the Crown River Room.

I hope you can join us in Melbourne at the state-of-the-art Melbourne Conference and Exhibition Centre this November, for AHMRC 2014.

Associate Professor Gilda Tachedjian
Program Organising Convenor, AHMRC 2014


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