Careers in Biotechnology - City of Greater Geelong

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Careers in Biotechnology - City of Greater Geelong

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Careers in Biotechnology

Biotechnology is one of the fastest growing areas of

science in the world today. The race to improve medical

treatments, produce crops resistant to pests and

disease, and to protect against bioterrorism has resulted

in a flourish of research activity.

Choosing a career in biotechnology opens up a world of

exciting discoveries and attractive job prospects. You

could be saving lives, creating new foods or become the

Bill Gates of the medical world.

What is Biotechnology?

Biotechnology is defined as a technique that uses living

organisms to make or modify products or improve plants

and animals. In the medical world it has been used to

develop vaccines and antibiotics, test for diseases and

assist couples to have children through the use of IVF (in

vitro fertilisation). In the agricultural world, biotechnology

resulted in Dolly – the cloned sheep - tomatoes that

don’t rot and cows that like Australia’s hot summers!

Biotechnology is part of the search for cures for diseases

like Alzheimer’s, cancer, diabetes, obesity and cardiac

disorders.

Biotechnology in Geelong

The Geelong Region has Victoria’s largest biotechnology

capability outside Melbourne. There are more than 300

researchers and the industry attracts approximately

$18 million per year in external research funding.

Employment in biotechnology alone contributes over

$15 million in wages and salaries to the local economy

each year.

Project Snapshots

Research in Geelong encompasses all kinds of

biotechnology. One project that Deakin University and

Barwon Health are working on involves the production of

new materials for hip replacements. The idea is to make

metals mimic real bones so they will be better accepted

by the human body. Local biotechnology company,

Chemgenex Pharmaceuticals, is developing drugs to cure

cancer and other treatments for diabetes and obesity,

while CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory in

East Geelong is trying to combat bird flu, foot and mouth

disease and SARS. This is just a small snapshot of the

interesting and important work being done in Geelong in

biotechnology.

Career Pathways

There are careers at all levels of the biotechnology

industry; from head scientists to lab technicians to

science communicators. Science courses at Deakin

University and the Gordon Institute of TAFE are a great

start, as both have courses specialising in biotechnology

covering research and technical expertise. You don’t have

to be the next Marie Curie to succeed in the biotech

industry; you just need to have a keen sense of curiosity

and motivation.

Contacts

Economic Development Unit -

City of Greater Geelong

2nd floor, 131 Myers St, Geelong

PO Box 104 Geelong 3220 Australia

Ph: (03) 5227 0855

Fax: (03) 5227 0855

ecoinfo@geelongcity.vic.gov.au

www.biogeelong.com.au

Deakin University

Faculty of Science and Technology

Email: sci-tech@deakin.edu.au

Website: www.deakin.edu.au

Ph: (03) 9244 6699

Gordon Institute of TAFE

Email: courinfo@gordontafe.edu.au

Website: www.gordontafe.edu.au

Ph: (03) 5225 0800

BioGeelong is a network of local organisations

who contribute to the biotechnology industry

in Geelong. It was created in 2005 to assist

in growing the Geelong Region's

biotechnology capability, creating jobs and

boosting the economy – making Geelong the

Silicon Valley of the Biotechnology industry.

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Profiles

DANIEL LAYTON

Daniel Layton

CSIRO – Australian Animal Health Laboratory

PhD student

“What keeps me working hard is the idea that one day my

research could save someone’s life,” says Daniel Layton.

It is a real possibility. Daniel is investigating the

transplanting of a heart from a pig into a human being.

Daniel is a PhD student at the Australian Animal Health

Laboratory (AAHL) and for the past four years he has been

trying to combat transplant rejection of pig organs by human

immune systems. In August last year, Daniel won the

Geelong Researcher of the Year Award for his

groundbreaking research.

Asked about his motivation for getting out of bed in the

morning he replies: “The best part about my work is that I

learn something new and exciting everyday. Plus, it helps

that AAHL has a great social atmosphere and the scientists

that I work with everyday are of a very high-calibre.”

Daniel spends some of his time at the Austin Hospital

in Melbourne with whom he collaborates. “I like

the flexibility and diversity that comes with

being a PhD student,” he says.


What could possibly be more interesting than

potentially saving people’s lives, especially

when you are dealing with something as cutting

edge as taking a pig’s heart and putting it into

a human body ... One day it will save a

person’s life and then you’ll all have to

apologise for doubting me.


“Next, I am going to work at the Australian Stem Cell

Centre and then… the United States of America…

here I come.”

After jet setting around the globe Daniel wants to return to

Geelong. “I love the beaches, the waterfront and everything

Geelong has to offer, once I’ve kick started my career

internationally I’ll definitely be back,” he said. Daniel

believes that the best advice he received as a young student

was to choose a career that really interested him.

“What could possibly be more interesting than potentially

saving people’s lives, especially when you are dealing with

something as cutting edge as taking a pig’s heart and

putting it into a human body,” he said. “One day it will save

a person’s life and then you’ll all have to apologise for

doubting me.”

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BIOGEELONG - MAKE A DIFFERENCE

SHARON EDWARDS

Sharon Edwards

CSIRO – Textiles and Fibre Technology

Post Doctoral Scientist

Sharon Edwards is a long way from Leeds, in the UK,

where she completed her doctorate combining tissue

engineering and textile manufacturing.

“I didn’t know anything about Geelong before I came here,

but had heard of CSIRO and their research in textiles,” she

said.

Sharon is an expert in a very exciting field of science that

uses textiles to support tissue growth. One of her projects

focuses on developing a textile tube for growing nerves.

When this tube is placed over the ends of damaged nerves it

provides an environment that encourages the nerves to

repair, therefore healing the patient.

“I love the hands-on approach of fabricating textiles,”

Sharon says. “Within my research I am involved in using a

range of machinery to form complex textile structures that

can be used to grow new biological tissue – it’s exciting.”

The path Sharon took to end up in biomedical textiles wasn’t

straightforward.

“As a young girl I liked science but wasn’t sure what I

wanted to do when I finished school,” she said. “I ended up

travelling for a number of years before enrolling in University

to study textile engineering.”

It was the biomedical applications of textiles that really

caught Sharon’s attention, and the variety of equipment and

facilities at the Textile and Fibre Technology Centre in

Belmont that clinched the deal, resulting in her immigration

to Australia.

“The best thing about science is being able to do something

that no one else has done before,” she says. Her advice to

students considering science as a career is to follow what

interests you. “You never know where it could take you –

even half way around the world.”


The best thing about science is being able

to do something that no one else has done

before, she says. Her advice to students

considering science as a career is to follow

what interests you.


BIOGEELONG - SMART THINKING - CAREERS IN BIOTECHNOLOGY 4 < >


BIOGEELONG - MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Profiles

NICOLE STUPKA

Nicole Stupka

BioDeakin

Post Doctoral Scientist

Nicole Stupka loves the mystery of science.

“You can do all the literature research, plan your experiment

and yet in the end the result can be so unexpected – that’s

exciting.” she said.

Nicole moved from Canada to Victoria to complete her PhD

in muscle cell biology. She now works for BioDeakin - the

Institute for Biotechnology at Deakin University in an area

of interest to everyone – getting old.

“Muscles deteriorate with age, and the question is why?”

she says. “What is the process of ageing and how could we

stay forever young?”

Nicole is based at the Geelong Hospital’s research unit.

“The good part about being at the Hospital is having

researchers around me who have extensive knowledge in

biomedical science including stem and

bone cell research,” she says.

“Also, I have constant access

to real patients.”

It was this, plus the

supportive environment

that exists at Deakin

University, that

attracted Nicole to

Geelong.

Nicole’s advice to young students is to do some real science

in a laboratory before considering it as a career. She did

work experience in a laboratory as a student, which, she

says, was an invaluable experience.

“Science is very different in school to the real world,” she

says. The best thing about science is that you don’t know

the answer – that’s what you are trying to find out.”

“Science allows you to be creative in a very constructive

way, especially when you could improve someone’s

quality of life.”


Science is very different in school to the

real world, she says. The best thing about

science is that you don’t know the answer –

that’s what you are trying to find out!


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