A Career in Medical Research

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Woman: When I finished school I went to university, Melbourne University, and studied science, a bachelor of science . I then did my honours degree and after that I worked in a heart disease research institute.
Man: In Melbourne?
Woman: In Melbourne. It is called the Baker Heart Research Institute. So I worked for a year, a bit over a year on cholesterol and the metabolism of cholesterol in the body.
Man: How the body breaks it down?
Woman: How it is actually transported. So I was looking at a protein, that determines how the cholesterol in the blood is modified and delivered to cells and how it is returned back to the liver..
Man: Right.
Woman: …to be broken down into bile. So we were working on that and then I wanted to have a break so I went traveling and I traveled through western Europe and ended up in London and I worked at the Guildford Surrey County Hospital in an immunology lab and that was more diagnostic work. It was quite interesting. And after that I moved to Finland. Helsinki.
Man: Wow!
Woman: And I did my PhD there.
Man: In Helsinki? In English?
Woman: In English. Every student who is doing their PhD; they have to write their PhD in English.
Man: Right.
Woman: And the seminars are given in English.
Man: So you were in Helsinki for like five years.
Woman: Five years.
Man: Do you speak Finnish?
Woman: Not very well. I can understand a bit, but it is quite a difficult language and because English was my mother tongue they wanted to practise their English.
Man: Right.
Woman: And preferred to speak English with me. But yeah I did take lessons and try and learn it…and that was all… So the PhD was all metabolism and transport.
Man: Right.
Woman: And after that I decided to move back to Melbourne so I took the trans-Siberian train.
Man: Wow!
Woman: And went that direction into Beijing.
Man: Into China, yeah.
Woman: Yeah. Then got back to Melbourne and I started my post-doctoral research which was in a different field.  It is blood diseases like leukemia and I was researching stem cells in the bone marrow and a signaling pathway…
Man: Stem cell research; that is illegal in some places, isn’t it?
Woman: It is. This is adult stem cells. Not embryonic.
Man: Right.
Woman: So we all have stem cells in our bone marrow and they are constantly re-populating the marrow and providing us with our whole immune system.
Man: Right.
Woman: But they are normally dormant or “quiescent” as we call it. And they only go into division when they need to produce certain cells. So I was trying to figure out or understand what controls; like what signals they get to move them from quiescence to an active state
Man: Right.
Woman: So that was three years and that was in Melbourne. So I just published the work from that and decided to travel…

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