International family

UQ's Institute for Molecular Bioscience
expands its alumni community.

The Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) has celebrated the graduations of its first PhD students from Serbia and Nepal, who investigated rare neurodegenerative disorders and diagnostic tools for dengue fever.

Internationally acclaimed for its life science discoveries, IMB has attracted talented postgraduate students from around the world since the Institute's launch in 2000.

Marija Kojic and Sanjaya Kc (pictured with his family above) are among 61 higher degree by research graduates enrolled through IMB in the past two years.

They take the number of nationalities represented in the Institute’s alumni community - marked in red on the map above - to more than 40.

Marija Kojic, PhD

Marija, from the Serbian capital Belgrade, rates her PhD experience at IMB as one of the best of her life.

Her thesis on the genetic regulation of development and disorders of the cerebellum is shedding new light on the rare neurodegenerative disease cerebellar ataxia, with a scientific publication pending.

Her findings may have implications for other neurological conditions, and she is anticipating using the tools and knowledge she developed through her PhD to explore

Marija 's mother travelled from Serbia to attend the UQ graduation ceremony.

Marija 's mother travelled from Serbia to attend the UQ graduation ceremony.

But Marija says the learning involved in the four-year undertaking was not just of an academic nature.

“The PhD really prepares you for life – how to troubleshoot, think analytically and critically, and observe things from different angles.

“Of course, there are many failed experiments along the way. Each gives you a lesson – to try something different, to accept your failures, and through the challenges to grow.”

Sanjaya Kc, PhD

For Sanjaya, the path to a PhD in Nanobiotechnology at IMB took him from an undergraduate degree in Nepal to Malaysia for a master’s.

His focus has been on the mosquito-borne dengue virus, and developing ultra-sensitive diagnostic tools using nanotechnology approaches.

One of his PhD highlights was an opportunity to work at the Eijkman Institute in Indonesia, validating dengue fever markers in the blood using clinical samples.

Sanjaya has already published research on nanoparticle-based biosensors, a field he believes will revolutionise the way disease is diagnosed around the world.

“UQ has an international reputation for great science, so I felt confident to collaborate with experts in other parts of the world,” Sanjaya says.

Sanjaya in the lab with IMB colleagues

Sanjaya in the lab with IMB colleagues

“At IMB we have great support from our supervisors, other researchers and fellow students.

"We also have access to experts in so many fields across UQ, and to world-class facilities.”

UQ experience

Both Marija and Sanjaya say the strong sense of community they have found at the St Lucia campus has encouraged them to become active participants.

Marija is a Science Ambassador for the Institute, and served as the Vice-President of the Students of IMB Association, a group supporting postgrads through social and professional events and advocacy.

Sanjaya was the founding president of UQ’s first Nepalese Club, which raised $7500 for a charity supporting survivors of the devastating 2015 Nepal earthquake.

Both say their experience has been enriched by IMB’s diverse international community, and they have formed friendships and partnerships with colleagues from dozens of countries around the world.

Sanjaya presents his PhD research at a conference in Sweden

Sanjaya presents his PhD research at a conference in Sweden

The talented duo are already considering how they can use their new qualifications to make an impact on society.

Sanjaya is determined to ensure his work changes the way diseases are diagnosed, including in developing countries, by forming collaborations with industry partners.

Marija is determined to share her passion for science - teaching and inspiring the next generation of researchers - while continuing her academic research.

Visit the website for more information about postgraduate training at UQ's Institute for Molecular Bioscience.