SPARQ-ed students investigate melanoma cell research

2 Oct 2011

Fifteen SPARQ-ed students presented their findings on melanoma cells at The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute on Friday the 30th of September, concluding a week-long intensive research program.

The Students Performing Advanced Research QLD (SPARQ-ed) completed a science project based on work undertaken in Associate Professor Brian Gabrielli’s Cell Cycle melanoma research laboratory.

The project examined therapies targeting a cellular pathway which certain melanoma cells use to repair damage exhibited by other chemotherapy drugs. If these drugs can be shown to remove the ability of the cancer cells to recover from damage, they may form the basis of new combination therapies with conventional treatments.

The exercise undertaken is part of a multiple stage project, in which the results and materials generated in one project are used by participants of the next project.

Two students whom attended the last SPARQ-ed research project rejoined this group, eager to see how their cells from the previous project had reacted.

 “I was interested in seeing the results of this project as the cells were prepared by us previously,” said West Moreton Anglican College student, Breanna Cunniffe.

“The program is a great experience, especially as I want to study biomedical science at UQ when I finish school.” Breanna said.

High school students involved were from locally, but also travelled from as far North as Hervey Bay and Weipa. One student from the Sunshine Coast participated in the SPARQ-ed program with his parents staying in Brisbane for the week to support him.

Michael and Lisa Grant travelled down from the Sunshine Coast with their son Vincent and attended the final presentation of the group’s project at UQDI.

“Vincent wants to study medicine, so the SPARQ-ed program has definitely helped with his career choice and experience, and provides the opportunity for him to meet other students with similar science interests.” Michael said.

The project presentation concluded with a Q&A session and UQDI researchers and PhD students asked questions about the SPARQ-ed’s students’ research findings, to demonstrate their knowledge.

For more information about the SPARQ-ed program and how to become involved, please visit