Putting science to work through translational research

23 Sep 2022

Tahmina Tabassum may be the only scientist in her family, but the same sense of entrepreneurialism that courses through her community is firmly guiding her work at the University of Queensland’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN).

Tahmina says a strong business acumen is both a pillar of her family’s life in Bangladesh, and something that remains a major influence on her life and study today, pushing her to consider exactly how she will make a difference to society.
 
“I suppose I was into entrepreneurship from the very beginning,” Tahmina says.
 
“Relatability has always been very important to me. Whatever I'm doing, I'm doing it so I can contribute to the world.
 
“And translational research is one of the ways to do it.”
 
Like many of her AIBN colleagues to win a UQ Entrepreneurial PhD Top-Up Scholarship, Tahmina’s goals are set high.
 
Much of her work in the Wolvetang Group revolves around the gene-editing technology CRISPR-Cas9, and specifically how we alter human stem cell models.
 
Ultimately, she hopes to develop a safer and more reliable editing process that can help us understand and treat gene related disease.
 
“Right now I'm working in mammalian cell lines to optimise my CRISPR tool to cut in the specific regions that I am targeting it to,” she says.
 
“And eventually I plan to do the same on stem cell models.
 
“If the tool is working properly, then I can look at genetic diseases like beta-thalassemia and how to edit the gene for correction.”
 
Tahmina says embracing this particular topic was informed by her drive to make headway in biotech industry and hopefully open up commercialisation avenues, should her research go to plan.
 
“Basic science is important to understand the different ways in which our cells work … but for me, it is more important to actually go into the translational research because I want to make tangible change,” she says.
 
“I want to help like in a way that is visible rather than, you know, just being in the background and people can’t really see what I am doing.”
 
“What is the good of science if it can’t be put to use?”

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