On Wednesday 14th August, 155 guests, judges, and presenters filed into The University Club for the 13th edition of the annual Students in Health and Medical Research Conference (SHMRC).
SHMRC has developed into a world-class research conference where students present pioneering health research that is both inspiring and innovative – and this year was no exception. The 2019 SHMRC was the biggest conference since its launch in 2007.
Places for participants were competitive, and 33 outstanding individuals were selected to present in either an Oral, 3-Minute Thesis, or Poster category. SHMRC broadened the application process in 2019, and for the first time ever, included presenters from Notre Dame, and Honours and Masters students from UWA.
However, perhaps the most notable aspect of the 2019 Conference was the inclusion of a spectacular judging line-up. With a tremendous 56,257 collective citations between them, SHMRC was honoured with the presence of Winthrop Professor Fiona Wood AM – who is also a founding patron of SHMRC, Nobel laureate Professor Barry Marshall, WA Cancer Researcher of the Year, Professor Anna Nowak, and Director of the National Influenza Centre, Clinical Professor David Smith. Attendees were in awe of the collective knowledge of the fantastic judges, and their contributions to this conference were nothing short of amazing. They found the time to interact with presenters and audience alike, with a few keen attendees spotted even taking selfies with Professor Marshall!
The Conference opened with a stirring address from Professor Wood, who encouraged students to become involved in research to discover “how to make tomorrow better”. An esteemed and successful professional in her own right, she commented on the remarkable level of research being conducted by the next generation. To her, research was about “asking the question, and then not walking away from it”, a challenge she believes, those presenting had duly undertaken.
Nobel Prize recipient in Physiology or Medicine, Professor Marshall, imparted some words of wisdom to medical students in his address: “just see lots of patients”. Admitting he was inspired by the standard of research on display at the Conference, he expected there to be “a few more Nobel Prizes.”
The night rolled on with engaging presentations, whilst guests indulged themselves with canapés and drinks. The crowd did not seem to envy the role of the judges however, as the categories were very much even and it came down to the wire for much of the award deliberation.
Walking away with joint first prize for the Poster Presentation and their share of $300 was Saiuj Bhat and Anubhav Khandelwal. Saiuj presented his research titled ‘A systematic review of sources of dietary salt around the world’, whilst Anubhav presented on ‘Investigating the synergistic activity of Mip and EptA inhibitors to deliver an improved clearance of N. meningitidis by the host immune system’. The poster competition was incredibly close fought, with judges facing the headache of ranking a fantastic field of entrants.
In the 3-Minute Thesis category, Kyle Raubenheimer took home second place and $300 for his amusing presentation titled ‘Increased nitrate intake from beetroot juice does not alter soluble cellular adhesion molecules and circulating inflammatory cytokines in treated hypertensive individuals: a randomised, controlled trial.’ Christopher Ng came away with first place and $350 for his witty and engaging storyline incorporated into his presentation on ‘Childhood obesity and the occurrence of respiratory disease-related hospital admission or death in adulthood for children growing up in a rural area: the Busselton Health Study.’
Finally, for the 8 Minute Oral presentation category, in joint-second place was William Kermode and Kayley Crebbin. William eloquently and confidently presented and answered questions on his research titled ‘Evaluation of a novel targeted next-generation sequencing gene panel in the diagnosis of primary immunodeficiency’. Kayley Crebbin incorporated the story of her cousin with cerebral palsy as an inspiration for her research on ‘The SenScreen© Kids assessment of somatosensory function: determination of criteria and assessment of validity in children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy.’ William and Kayley take home their share of $300. In first place and taking home $500, was Salar Sobhi. Salar presented his research with The Joint Studio on the ‘Prevalence of tibia valga morphology in valgus knees and its implication on total knee arthroplasty and corrective osteotomy.’ His presentation was captivating and logical, and his charismatic style as a “part time medical student, part time carpenter” was quick to win over the crowd.
Well done to all who participated in the Conference. You should all be extremely proud of the work you are involved in, and look forward to seeing you again next year in some capacity.
This event wouldn’t have been possible without the generous support of the wonderful sponsors – Royal Perth Hospital Medical Research Foundation, National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases and Institute for Respiratory Health, Muscular Dystrophy WA, Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, the University of Western Australia Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences and Royal Australiasian College of General Practioners. A special thank you goes to the VIP guests – Ms Joce Young, Professor Xavier Fiorilla, Professor Anna Nowak, Professor Sue Fletcher & Professor Leedman for taking time out of their busy schedules to be in attendance and present the awards to the winning students. The ongoing support of sponsors plays a vital role in the continuation of the success of the conference.
Finally, congratulations to the 2019 SHMRC committee, Saish Neppalli, Tristan Dale, Emma Turner, Ayeesha Thevar, Nathanael Foo, Hannah Greig and Tristan Lee for putting together a successful and inspiring event.