Graduating with a master’s degree AND a medical discovery

For her master’s degree in biotechnology, Pallavi Venkatesh didn’t just learn about the latest advances in medical science, she made some too.

Pallavi studied one of the most important tools in modern medicine, the Vaccinia virus, which was used as a vaccine to eradicate smallpox.

“I found out that different strains of the virus preference different pathogen-sensing molecules found within immune cells, which is really exciting,” she says.

Better understanding how different virus strains are detected by immune cells could help fine-tune its use as a tool against cancers and other viruses in the future.

“Our finding was exciting as we found that more than one of these pathogen sensor molecules was involved and that different strains may activate different sensor molecules preferentially.”

Pallavi says the coursework components of her Master of Biotechnology (Advanced) at The Australian National University (ANU) gave her the skills she needed to undertake this original research.

“I studied genomic sciences, molecular biology and cell biology, which I really enjoyed,” she says. 

For the research component of her degree, she had the opportunity to be part of an innovative team at The John Curtin School of Medical Research (JCSMR).

“I did my research under David Tscharke in the Immunology Department,” she says.

“Working with David was an amazing learning opportunity, he pushes you to be the best you can and provides incredible support.

“I also received additional support from members of the lab which helped me through my research year.”

Prior to arriving at ANU, Pallavi completed her undergraduate degree at Jyoti Nivas College in Bangalore.

She says that Canberra and living on campus at Toad Hall provided the ideal environment for a postgraduate scholar.

“I highly recommend ANU as a place to study,” she says. “I made lots of new friends here, friends for life.”

Inspired by her time at JCSMR, Pallavi is now planning to pursue a career in immunology.

Find out more about how a Master of Biotechnology at ANU can help launch your career in medical, biological or agricultural science.

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