Dr Katie Owens, NYSF 2004 Alumna — A Global Career

Dr Katie Owens attended the NYSF in 2004 and has gone on to have a career in Pharmaceutical research that has taken her around the world.

“Attending the NYSF in Canberra was an incredible experience that I will never forget. I was so inspired by the scientists, Rotarians and other students that were involved in the programme. The NYSF truly motivated me to pursue a career in research. I was also fortunate enough go on the Russian Scientific Study Tour hosted by the All-Russian Youth Aerospace Society as part of the international program, and returned to the NYSF in 2005 as a student staff member.

I count myself very fortunate to work in a dynamic research field with an excellent team of scientists and health professionals. Attending the NYSF played a signficant part in motivating me to pursue an exciting career in science research.

“After finishing high school in Maroochydore, Queensland, I enrolled as a Health Sciences first year student at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. At the end of the year I was accepted into the School of Pharmacy. While studying a Bachelor of Pharmacy, I became interested in research and was able to undertake two summer research studentships during my degree. I thoroughly enjoyed studying at Otago. In my opinion the student lifestyle in Dunedin is second to none. After graduating in 2008, I completed the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand EVOLVE Internship Programme in a community pharmacy in Dunedin.

“In 2010, I received a School of Pharmacy Departmental Award Postgraduate Scholarship at the University of Otago. My PhD project was in the area of clinical pharmacology in patient populations. I also worked part-time as a community pharmacist and undergraduate tutor. I presented my PhD research at several conferences during my PhD (in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and Italy).

“After submitting my thesis in 2013, I moved to Paris, France to start a postdoc in the Division of Clinical Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacometrics at the Institut de Recherches Internationales Servier. My project involved developing pharmacometric models of drug response in lymphoma patients, which further developed my skill set and gave me valuable experience in the pharmaceutical industry. On a personal note, it allowed my husband and I to live in Paris, learn French and travel.

The DIDB Program Team at the ISSX Conference, Orlando — Florida (Katie left)

“Since 2015, I have been working as a Research Scientist at the Drug Interaction Database (DIDB) Programme in the Department of Pharmaceutics at the University of Washington in Seattle, USA. The DIDB is an online knowledgebase that is currently used by a large number of pharmaceutical companies, regulatory agencies, contract research organizations and academic institutions worldwide. My role is to manually curate pre‑clinical and clinical drug interaction studies from scientific publications and documentation from the US Food and Drug Administration.

“I count myself very fortunate to work in a dynamic research field with an excellent team of scientists and health professionals. Attending the NYSF played a signficant part in motivating me to pursue an exciting career in science research.”

Session C #medsci interest group visits ACT Health

Health and Medical Science group ‘Doherty’ visited the labs of ACT Health, where they spent the morning getting a look at some of the work that happens in a large hospital. Upon arrival, the group talked to Dr Hannah Clark, senior research operations manager of ACT Health, about future possible careers and the research undertaken by the facility.

The group toured the liver research lab, which focuses on fatty liver disease, liver cancer, and the links this has to obesity. Researcher Sharon Pok, who is currently focusing how normal liver cells change into liver cancer cells, discussed her own research project. The participants then had some hands-on practice, pipetting homogenised liver tissue into gel wells, the first step to a long research process. Following Ms Pok was Dr Fahrettin Haczeyni, who led a discussion on the link between high fat/ cholesterol diets and liver cancer, the process of how this happens, and the negative side effects. The participants then had a look at real tissue samples to show the comparison between healthy and unhealthy livers.

Sharon Pok showing her research

The participants moved on to the Trauma and Orthopaedic Research Unit, where trauma nurses Dr Rebekah Ogilvie and Kate Evans discussed their own experiences, including a positive story of a 19-year-old car crash victim. The group then split up, and Kate explained the trauma emergency room process of receiving patients. An interactive discussion followed, including who needs to be told, who is there when a critical patient arrives, how does the team communicate, and how they save lives.

Kate discussing how a trauma victim is received

The other group was taken by Dr Ogilvie to the research clinic and discussed orthopaedics, specifically research into knee replacements. After watching footage of how the replacements are attached, they then toured the research lab, which was an excellent example of transdisciplinary work within science. Many engineers, bioengineers, and medical scientists were working together, all aiming to improve the current technology offered to patients. For the budding scientist, the afternoon opened up a whole new world of opportunities to pursue.

To see more of the excellent research conducted at ATC, check out their website: http://www.health.act.gov.au/research-publications/research

Meg Stegeman, Communications Intern NYSF 2017 Session C and NYSF Alumna 2014