Every year, the Foundation is proud to support the summer studentship programmes of the University of Otago, Christchurch and the University of Canterbury. These $5,000 scholarships allow students to take a first up and close look at the ins and outs of a research project, under the supervision of senior, established career researchers. Below are this year’s students from the University of Canterbury and their respective projects.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder which affects up to 15% of women of reproductive age. Surprisingly little is known about the causes of PCOS, however, recent research indicates that it may have subtypes with slightly differing hormonal dysfunctions. These dysfunctions lead to complications in both the reproductive and metabolic systems. Throughout this project I am hoping to better understand the different phenotypes of PCOS and their causes. I aim to model the hormones affected by PCOS, with a particular interest in any possible distinctions between subtypes. A better understanding in this area may prove to be crucial in improving the diagnosis and treatment of the disorder.
My name is Jenny Naughton and I have just finished the third year of my undergraduate degree, in which I majored predominantly in biochemistry and biological sciences. During my most recent, and incidentally last, semester, I was involved in a short research project for one of my courses involving the p16 protein that not only introduced me to multiple new techniques, but also piqued my interest regarding this protein. I have always been particularly interested in the potential medical applications research can yield, hence the appeal of p16 due to its role as a tumour suppressor protein. The p16 protein is often mutated to enable tumorigenesis, and this project will investigate some of these mutations to determine if they confirm a hypothesis, which states that they will increase the rate of amyloid fibril formation. Therefore, the results of this project will provide information on the factors of p16 amyloid formation. I am excited to work on this project as it is an intriguing topic linked to the much broader and increasingly severe worldwide problem of cancer, and also provides an amazing opportunity to spend time in the lab and learn from many experienced people.