PhD students poster competition finalists

Nour NicolasHudson Institute PhD students Rukmali Wijayarathna and Nour Nicolas were both named finalists in the Endocrine Society of Australia and Society for Reproductive Biology’s (ESA-SRB) Annual Conference’s Student Poster Presentation Award competition late last month.

Nour and Rukmali are both participants in the International Research Training Group, a program between Monash University and Justus Liebig University, Giessen.

Nour, an exchange student from Germany, was named the competition winner for her presentation poster on the role of activin A and follistatin in testicular autoimmune orchitis, specifically experimental autoimmune epididymo-orchitis (EAEO), or inflammation of the testis.

Nour is studying her PhD under Associate Professor Mark Peter Hedger in the Centre for Reproductive Health. The data she has obtained so far indicates Activin A may play a role in promoting inflammation in EAEO in the mouse testis.

This data indicates that treatment with exogenous follistatin to attenuate activin A bioactivity early in testicular inflammation may reduce damage to spermatogenesis in patients with this condition.

“Many people took a great interest in our posters and a lot of people turned up and had a genuine interest and asked a lot of questions,” Nour said.

Rukmali’s research focuses on the role of activin and its binding protein follistatin in the structure and function of the epididymis and vas deferens.

She will spend one year in Germany on exchange as part of the program in 2016.