Graduate moves from intellectual pursuit to research

13 Dec 2013

Dipti Vijayan started a PhD looking forward to the intellectual stimulation, but has finished with a determination to know more about autoimmune diseases.

Dr Vijayan is graduating from the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, based at The University of Queensland, as part of the institute’s biggest cohort to date.

She has already taken the first steps towards a career in research, gaining a sought-after position at the highly-regarded Garvan Institute in Sydney.

“I really hope that one day my contribution to medical research could provide significant progress in advancing medical knowledge and improving patient care,” the 27-year-old said.

Dr Vijayan is researching the role of a particular cytokine, a substance secreted by immune cells, which is believed to be linked to the development of autoimmune diseases such as lupus and cancer.

The work involves using techniques such as flow cytometry, immunohistochemistry, tissue immunofluorescence and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays.

“I envisage this study will provide mechanisms that further our understanding of lupus,” Dr Vijayan said.

“Understanding the fundamental immunological processes and their dysfunction is of importance for better and effective therapeutics.”

Dr Vijayan said the research was both important and intriguing.

“There are several deadly diseases such as lupus, HIV, cancer that we still know very little about,” she said.

“It is only when you know how diseases are caused that you can work out ways to prevent them. The constant search for finding answers to these problems is what I find extremely challenging and motivating.”

Dr Vijayan completed her PhD at AIBN, under the supervision of Associate Professor Christine Wells, where she worked in a multi-disciplinary environment and was encouraged to think about “the big picture”.

“The constant interactions and collaborations with both students and staff at AIBN gave me valuable intellectual and technical insights.

“I am thankful to AIBN for giving me opportunities to improve my presentation and communication skills. I believe those skills are extremely important to a scientist.”

In addition to that, Dr Vijayan found her PhD studies had helped her become more resourceful, determined and resilient.

Dr Vijayan is one of 19 AIBN PhD graduates in 2013, building on the 15 conferred in 2012.

This year’s other AIBN students to graduate are Yosephine Andriani, Jessica Cameron, Xiaojing Chen, Yam-Mi Chuang, Pamela Jaramillo Ferrada, Peng Li, Mervyn Liew, Paul Luckman, Leila Matindoost, Sean Muir, Huey Wen Ooi, Azlin Fazlina Osman, Tania Rivera Hernandez, Suriana Sabri, Anne Sandstrom, Khaled Sebakhy, Nghia Truong Phuoc and Yian Zhu.