VCAL students raise funds for cord blood research

Year 12 students from Wangaratta in north-east Victoria have put their money where their mouth is, raising funds and awareness to support cord blood research at the Hudson Institute.

The group of more than 25 VCAL students and support staff last week toured the Institute, including The Ritchie Centre, where vital research is taking place into the use of stem cells from babies’ umbilical cords to improve brain function after severe birth asphyxia.

The students were joined by representatives from Inner Wheel Australia, whose annual ‘Coin for a Cord Day’ supports research into the clinical use of cord blood at the Institute.

The students held a merchandising and cake stall in Wangaratta to raise funds and awareness for research into the clinical use of cord blood as part of their studies in fundraising.

The students are undertaking this subject as part of the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning or VCAL, which allows them to gain a year 12 qualification whilst getting practical work experience and learning hands-on skills.

During their tour of The Ritchie Centre, students heard from and participated in a Q&A session with members of Professor Graham Jenkin’s and Dr Suzie Miller’s research group, which is investigating the use of cord blood for the treatment and prevention of cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy is the most common childhood physical disability, often co-existing with cognitive impairments, for which there is currently no cure.

The condition can be caused by brain damage in fetuses that are growth restricted in their mother’s womb, or in preterm infants and at term if the baby suffers birth asphyxia.

Grants the Hudson Institute has received from Inner Wheel Australia have been crucial in advancing research into the use of cord blood in the treatment and prevention of cerebral palsy in the peri-natal period.

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