Hudson Institute, SCS PhD students excel in Faculty 3MT Final

Hudson Institute and School of Clinical Sciences PhD student, Aidan Kashyap has taken out second prize in Monash University’s Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition.

PhD student Aidan Kashyap

Aidan’s research is finding therapies to help babies who struggle to breathe in their first moments of life due to underdeveloped lungs, as a result of a condition known as congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH).

Aidan’s presentation likened the supply of vital oxygen to a baby in utero via the umbilical cord to an astronaut’s spacesuit, which supplies the oxygen that enables them to breathe in orbit.

“Immediately clamping the umbilical cord when babies are born, before they begin to breathe on their own, leaves them with no source of oxygen and poor blood supply to the heart. It would be just like welcoming an astronaut back from space and disconnecting them from their life-support before they can get their helmet off to breathe on their own,” Aidan said.

“Babies, particularly those with underdeveloped lungs, will benefit from ensuring that they are breathing – either on their own or with respiratory support – before the umbilical cord is clamped.”

Supervised by Associate Professor Ryan Hodges in the Fetal Therapy Research Group, Aidan is helping to improve outcomes for babies with CDH.

Their approaches range from therapies that can be given to mothers during pregnancy, to surgery that can be performed on the fetus before birth, to a simple change to management at birth that involves keeping the umbilical cord attached for longer.

High calibre of graduate research showcased

Ten PhD candidates from across the Faculty competed in the 3MT final on Thursday 12 July. 3MT is a national competition that challenges PhD students to communicate their research to a non-scientific audience in under three minutes.

Nicole Free, from the School of Clinical Sciences, won first prize and will now represent the Faculty in the Monash University 3MT finals on August 16. Nicole’s research is investigating how non-surgical interventions, like voice therapy, could potentially reverse or eliminate vocal fold lesions.

PhD student Amy Wilson also represented the Central Clinical School at the Faculty final with her presentation on a new approach to ovarian cancer therapy, which involves activating the immune system with a clinically approved drug.

Amy is co-supervised by Dr Andrew Stephens at Hudson Institute and Professor Magdalena Plebanksi at Alfred Immunology.

Professor Nellie Georgiou-Karistianis, Associate Dean of Graduate Research, acknowledged the contribution of all finalists to ground-breaking research, with the potential to not only transform the lives of patients, but of whole communities and our society.

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