95 years of discovery

We have been making pioneering discoveries for 95 years. To recognise this milestone, we asked some of our more experienced and emerging researchers, what their earliest inspirations were for pursuing careers in medical science. Here’s what they had to say:

95 years of discovery

Professor Murray Esler — Clinician/Researcher and Lab Head

As a young boy, my life goal was to be a doctor. Two things set this in stone, the influence of my father who was Geelong’s first ambulance paramedic, and the medical care provided by our GP when I was bedridden with whooping cough as a seven-year-old. During medical school I enjoyed the science component of the curriculum, and was able to pursue this under the mentorship of Professor Paul Nestel, in a Bachelor of Medical Science year. After graduation and my internship at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, I followed Paul to Canberra for PhD studies in cardiovascular neuroscience, starting my life-long interest in the sympathetic nervous system. With 42 years’ continuous NHMRC funding as a fellow at the Baker Institute, I followed my dream, merging patient care and clinical science. I came to better understand the harmful medical downside of the sympathetic nervous system, and to develop improved treatments of cardiovascular diseases along the way.

Associate Professor Xiaowei Wang — Lab Head and member of our Gender Equity and Diversity Committee

Growing up in Singapore, my family lived below the poverty line. I was the first in my family to attend school and to receive an education. I obtained a scholarship to study cardiac technology and later worked in the hospital, where I realised the need for better diagnosis and therapy. This career path inspired me to complete a PhD and become a cardiovascular researcher.

Ms Bethany Claridge — PhD student and part of our Bright Sparks program

Science and discovery always intrigued me as a child, and work experience at the Baker Institute during high school inspired me to pursue medical research. Now I’m lucky enough to be back here doing just that, working on problems that really matter.

Mr Crisdion Krstevski — PhD student and member of our Student Committee

In year 7, my maths and science teacher gave me the worst marks I had received for my first science report. After discussing how I could improve, I realised science was about learning from my mistakes and improving upon them. From that point, I focused on science and learning as much as I could, and that moment of small failure fuelled a passion I didn’t know I had! That year 7 teacher (he knows who he is) had the greatest impact on my journey as a young scientist.

Professor Judy de Haan — Lab Head and member of our Gender Equity and Diversity Committee

I was inspired from around the age of 8 or 9, when my older brother embarked on his medical career in Cape Town, South Africa. The University of Cape Town’s Medical School was situated at Grote Schuur Hospital which was famous as the place of the first heart transplant performed by Dr Christiaan Barnard. Cape Town was abuzz with countless tales of medical discoveries. These imbibed the halls of Cape Town’s medical school for years to come, inspiring young minds and nurturing many a budding cardiologist. My interest was piqued, and so it was only natural that I yearned to be at that medical school in the years that lay ahead. I was finally able to wander those famous corridors when I undertook my Honours and Masters degrees at UCT Medical School in Medical Biochemistry.

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