Merrin Pang

Merrin Pang from the Interventional Immunology in Early Life Diseases Research Group at Hudson Institute

Merrin Pang

Degree

PhD student

Research Centre

The Ritchie Centre

Area of study

Paediatric Immunology

Year of enrolment

2016

Why did you choose Hudson Institute and your research group?

Hudson Institute had so many projects available that really piqued my interest. There are many Centres within the Institute that are doing amazing work in their field, the collaborative nature was a major drawcard for me. I chose the Interventional Immunology in Early Life Diseases Research group because neonatal immunology was a really interesting concept for me and the project involved both a clinical and bench side component – meaning I got to experience the best of both worlds in terms of my medical research experience.

What is your research about and what do you hope to achieve?

My research centres around the Neo-ICog study, a multi-centre observational study of neonatal immune and coagulation systems in infants born less than 29 weeks gestation. Currently, little is known about the effects of being born so early on the development of these intrinsic systems. Infants born less than 29 weeks gestation are susceptible to a number of diseases as a result of their extreme prematurity, such as bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). BPD is a chronic neonatal inflammatory lung disease with an incidence as high as 61 per cent. Despite substantial morbidity and mortality associated, there is no effective treatment available. This represents an urgent unmet medical need. This narrative is also seen for other diseases of prematurity, where our lack of understanding of the mechanistic processes that underpin these diseases may be limiting our ability to develop more effective treatments. A better understanding of how these systems develop, may help us to overcome these challenges.

What is it like being a student at Hudson Institute?

Hudson Institute has so many different societies and events which makes it really easy to get to know people and make lifelong friends. With so many different research groups under one roof, there are so many opportunities to meet people from all different scientific and academic backgrounds. Being a student at Hudson Institute presents so many opportunities to explore what your scientific future may hold, whether that be in academia or industry, hands on clinical research or bench side research.

What opportunities have you had at Hudson Institute?

Throughout my time at Hudson Institute I've had the opportunity to publish a co-authored review during my PhD. I have been fortunate enough to attend several interstate conferences as well as the joint European Neonatal Societies (jENS) conference in Maastricht, NL last year. I have also had the opportunity to meet and attend a special symposium with opinion leaders in the field of neonatal research such as Steve Abman.

How will your research help others?

My research in the Neo-ICog study will enhance our understanding of the immune and coagulation systems in infants born less than 29 weeks. This may have important implications on the potential pathways for better treatments through improved knowledge of the mechanisms involved.