Sacha is a doctor who has developed a test that identifies people at risk of developing a life-threatening blood clot. Her method has been patented and is now under commercial development.
Job description: Studies the risk of developing a life-threatening blood clot; oversees the design and development of several new machines; manages a team of biologists testing new anti-clotting drugs.
Subjects studied: English, Maths A and Maths B, Biology and Chemistry.
Further training: Sacha completed a Bachelor of Science with Honours at Monash University (4 years); and a PhD in Medicine at Monash University (4 years)
Blood clotting saves lives by stopping the flow of blood from a wound. But inappropriate formation of clots in the blood vessels leading to the heart and brain can lead to a heart attack or a stroke.
Sacha has found a way of predicting which people are at high risk of developing one of these life-threatening blood clots. Her method was patented by Monash University and is now being developed by a biotechnology company, Thrombogenix Pty Ltd. It was an impressive achievement for a PhD student.
With her PhD completed, Sacha now works part-time as a research consultant for Thrombogenix and part-time as a medical research officer at Monash University.
She has identified a group of enzymes that limit the ability of platelets-small cell fragments that are major players in clotting-to stick to blood vessels and form clots.
"Unravelling the function of these platelet enzymes will not only help with our understanding of clot formation in health and disease, but also potentially lead to the development of new therapies and anti-clotting medications."
One of the things Sacha enjoys most about research is solving problems in an area where no one else has gone. When confronted with a challenge, she applies the scientific process of asking a series of questions and conducting experiments to provide the answers.
Staunching the brain drain
In the past, overseas companies have developed commercial products from Australian discoveries that had the potential to become new drugs and therapies. But that's changing as Australian biotech companies such as Thrombogenix keep the discoveries here for development.
Sacha points out that research is by no means all about making exciting discoveries. Laboratory work can be repetitive and the results disappointing. The key to overcoming the setbacks is the desire for answers, she says.
- Able to make clear and precise observations
- Able to work accurately with attention to detail
- Good verbal and written communication skills
- Able to identify and analyse problems and develop practical solutions
- Able to perform under pressure
- Able to organise and prioritise work.
Find out more about a career in medical science and research:
Australian Institute of Medical Scientists (National Office)
PO Box 1911 Milton, QLD 4064
Tel: (07) 3876 2988
Fax: (07) 3876 2999
Health Services Union of Australia (National)
Level 2, 106-108 Victoria St Carlton South, VIC 3053
Tel: (03) 9341 3328
Fax: (03) 9341 3329
Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).