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Bio Technology : July 2009
AusBioSTUDENTS Seeking Australia’s top life science students Last year’s winner for NSW, Leo McHugh, receives his award from Dr Ashley Bates. It’s that time again – AusBiotech together with GlaxoSmithKline are calling all life science graduates and budding bio-entrepreneurs to apply for the annual AusBiotech-GSK Student Excellence Awards. These annual awards began in 2004 and the state winners are offered a trip to attend AusBiotech 2009 and present their commercially focused project. One of last year’s winners, University of Sydney student, Mr Leo McHugh, says entering and winning the competition was a great experience. It gave Leo the opportunity to attend the conference and explore parts the industry that students are not often exposed to during their time at university. Leo said: “Winning the award better facilitated exchange between myself and the industry.” Leo developed a new software package to assist in proteomics research, the study of proteins and their functions. Leo explains “The proteins present (or absent) in disease samples compared to the protein profiles of normal tissue can assist scientists to elucidate the biochemical processes underlying disease However, identifying the proteins within human samples can be problematic.” “Currently the software used by the high throughput mass spectrometry machine is unable to identify between 30% and 70% of the proteins present in any human sample. This means that up to 70% of potential biomarkers and drug targets are missed,” he said. Leo’s software, named PINNACLE, uses a powerful artificial intelligence approach and his results showed more protein identifications when compared against a number of leading packages. The whole application process allows students to acquire a taste for life in the industry as students are required to think strategically about their research and research outcomes. The second phase of the application process requires that students ‘pitch’ their project to the judges, simulating experiences that are common within the bio-industry. Application forms can be downloaded from www. ausbiotech.org/studentexcellenceawards. This student reward program, made possible through GSK’s support, is a key driving factor in the development of our future bio-industry leaders. In addition, GSK has also partnered with AusBiotech to develop the AusBiotech-GSK Research to Revenue events (a series of events held nationally to give students an insight into the commercilisation process) and the AusBiotech-GSK Student Volunteers Program to occur at AusBiotech 2009. 62 Australasian BioTechnology Volume 19 • Number 2 • July 2009