Biomedical Engineering student Kevin Choi spent the summer on a research scholarship at the Australian Heart Research Institute at the University of Sydney. Kevin used his time developing cutting edge methods to improve medical technology.
The Heart Research institute has been operating at the forefront of medical research for 28 years now. To continue this research, they fundraise outside of Australia as well, including in New Zealand. To give back to the communities that support them the institute funds scholarships for students from the countries they fundraise in.
Thus, I found myself with 7 other students from fields ranging from physiology to sports science travelling to Sydney with all expenses paid and a $5000 AUD stipend, to undertake research supervised by world leading faculty members. The team there are just great, they are experts in their fields but it was still a very collegial atmosphere. I still talk to many of them and they are always willing to give me advice or help me with my work.
My supervisor, Dr Anna Waterhouse had just returned from Harvard where she had been involved in developing the use of TLP (Tethered liquid perfluorocarbon) surfaces. It was this technology that I was working on while in Australia. TLP surfaces are slippery surfaces that form a layer that causes anything to come into contact with it to slide off.
This technology is being developed for use in implanting medical devices into patients to stop the formation of blood clots by not allowing the proteins that cause clotting to stick to the device. The aim of this is to allow devices such as stents to be more effective and last longer which can mean longer periods between what can be very invasive and tolling operations.
I loved being able to partake in this research as it was consistent with the ideals that led me to go into biomedical research. The idea of helping people before they get sick instead of treating them once they are sick has been a driving factor for me and working in such a cutting-edge environment has put into perspective what can be achieved in the field and has motivated me to consider going into post-graduate research.
It is only a very short eight-week period, but I still managed to learn so much, ranging from technical and lab skills to the academic side of things as well. It has given me the drive and confidence to push my own research at university to be as cutting-edge as possible to help maximise positive health outcomes for the community.
Applications for this summer's round of HRI scholarships are now open. Click here to find out more.