Health When hard work really is worth the effort

When hard work really is worth the effort

Work can be a drag sometimes but what if your daily grind could help cure kids of a deadly disease?

One young researcher at the University of Sunshine Coast has kicked off her career doing exactly that, and her enthusiasm for the job is impossible to hide.

Jennifer Chandler travelled to USC from her native United Kingdom to study with world experts in genetic research, focusing genes that affect the growth and development of crustaceans.

“The kangaroos on campus made it hard to resist too,” she says.

While completing her PhD, Dr Chandler worked on ways of manipulating genes to change the gender of Eastern rock lobsters, assisting with the conservation of a native species.

Now she is using her findings to help develop a gene therapy technique that could one day replace or rebalance mutated human genes which cause Nephrotic Syndrome, a kidney condition potentially fatal in children.

Tomer Venturer, her supervisor at USC, says the 26-year-old’s novel discoveries have gained her international recognition.

“Jennie is a talented early career researcher, poised to become a leader in any field she chooses to focus on,” Dr Ventura says.

“She is truly a shining star and her academic journey will be a source of inspiration for many Higher Degree by Research students at USC.”

But Dr Chandler’s attention is focused squarely on the practical applications of her work, and the kids who stand to benefit.

“In severe cases of the disease where the recommended treatment … has little effect, around 50 percent of children will have end-stage renal failure within 10 years,” Dr Chandler says.

“We want to determine how … gene mutation is causing glomerular disease, which could allow us to treat or prevent the disease at its cause.”