ATA Scientific would like to thank all those that participated in our April 2018 Encouragement Award promotion.

The topic of our latest competition focused on the future of scientific conferences and secondments and whether they are still needed with access to publications and information now fast and cheap over the internet. While presenting at scientific conferences can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience, the question invited readers to consider whether the money spent on these events could be better used on underfunded projects. The dilemma of attending scientific conferences or not can be intensified with the prospect of travelling to exotic locations or meeting famous Nobel Laureates. Overall, it came to no surprise that the social aspect and collaborative, scientific interaction that results from attending these events resonated with many for their support.

We were pleased to receive such a diverse range of high quality responses, all of which were deserving winners. Each entry was scored based on originality, relevance and level of entertainment.


After much deliberation, three entries were selected to receive our award– first prize at $1500 and 2 runners up at $600 each.

Congratulations to our first prize winner Gabrielle McClymont, Masters student at the School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney and works under the supervision of Professor Jacqui Matthews.

Gabrielle McClymont University of SydneyGabrielle is researching novel α-helical peptide inhibitors of breast cancer oncogene LMO4. She has been working to redesign the peptide protein interface of LMO4 by replacing the traditional β-strand binding partners with novel inhibitory α-helical ones and designing a high throughput screening mechanism to identify these peptides.  Inhibitors of LMO4 are a method to understand LMO4 mediated tumour progression and possible therapeutic precursors.

Gabrielle has recently won the Gates Cambridge Scholarship to undertake her PhD in Biochemistry at Cambridge University. Her PhD with Professor Nick Gay will elucidate the molecular mechanisms of inflammatory signal transduction in the innate immune system.  Focusing on understanding the structure, function, kinetics and stoichiometry of TLR4 mediated inflammation with has been implicated in viral haemorrhagic fevers (end stage of disease such as Ebola and Dengue) and Sepsis. This research will provide the crucial molecular structure from which new therapeutics targeting severe inflammation can be developed.


“My life aim is to improve humanity through scientific endeavour. At the age of 11,  I met Dr Takyama an eminent HIV researcher who inspired me to develop my scientific curiosity; years later volunteering at St Vincent de Paul, I observed my small services improve lives. This motivated my desire to use scientific research to magnify my contribution and advance the welfare of humanity. I will achieve this through my two interests, science and policy; utilising medical research and implementation in public policy with industrial collaboration to maximise the benefits globally”.

Gabrielle graduated from the University of Sydney Bachelor Advanced Science Arts, 1st class honours, Biochemistry, Government & International Relations. She is a finalist at the World, Asia-Pacific, Australasian Women’s and Australian University Debating Championships and Vice-President of the Politics Society and Society for Molecular Biologists.

Gabrielle plans to use the award money to help cover the costs of undertaking her PhD at Cambridge and in particular to attend conferences in Europe.

Congratulations to our runner up, Kristel Cahyadi Tjandra, third year PhD Candidate at CBNS: ARC Centre of Excellence in Convergent Bio-Nano Science and Technology, University of New South Wales under the supervision of A/Prof. Pall Thordarson. Given the interdisciplinary nature of her project, Kristel works with two diverse teams from the School of Chemistry (Thordarson Group) and Children’s Cancer Institute.

Kristel Tjandra UNSWKristel’s research is focused on the study of peptide-based drug delivery systems for targeted cancer treatment. Peptides are short chains of amino acids, often a part of a protein unit that has particular function inside the body. Her research objective is to design, synthesise and investigate the pharmacokinetics of peptide-based drug delivery systems, including the way they are taken up and react in the body, in order to develop drug-delivery systems that could target cancer cells in a specific manner.

Kristel plans to use her prize money to travel and attend the European Molecular Biology Lab (EMBL) Chemical Biology Workshop 2018 in Heidelberg, Germany, 29 Aug – 1 Sep 2018.

 “The award, which will contribute towards my attendance at EMBL Chemical Biology Workshop 2018, will give me the opportunity to engage with researchers working in the interface between Chemistry and Biology with a wide range of expertise. The opportunity to learn from other experts will hopefully spur new ideas and facilitate future collaborations”.

Kristel’s career goal is to work in the pharmaceutical industry and to keep pursuing her passion in the area of drug discovery and development. “I think that this area of pharmaceutical science will continue to have a huge impact in the society and that the technology we now have could help advance the field immensely”. 

Congratulations to our runner up, Amy Wilson, from the Hudson Institute of Medical Research, Centre for Cancer Research, in Clayton, Victoria.

Amy Wilson Hudson InstituteAmy is a third year PhD Student in the Ovarian Cancer Biomarkers laboratory at the Hudson Institute of Medical Research, under joint supervision of Dr. Andrew Stephens and Prof. Magdalena Plebanksi.

Amy’s PhD research is focused on re-activating the immune system to more effectively treat ovarian cancers. Often, ovarian tumours are hidden from the immune system via secretion of certain proteins, and this can lead to chemo-resistance. Amy’s research involves the re-purposing of an already clinically approved drug in combination with current therapies in order to reinvigorate the anti-tumour immune response.

Amy plans to use the award to attend the Australasian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology ComBio 2018 conference being held in Sydney from 23-26 September 2018.

 “This award will allow me to present my research to leading scientists to gain valuable feedback, and to establish a strong scientific network with esteemed researchers from various fields. After my PhD, my goal is work somewhere internationally; where I can learn, share my knowledge and skills, and form collaborations”.

We would like to thank all those that participated. The next Encouragement Award will be posted on our website in May 2018.

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