The new GMRI premises currently host nine research staff, six honorary research associates and two research students on scholarships, and an executive assistant.
The two research students, Ranui Baillie and Lucy Sulzberger, were part of a group of five summer students working at the GMRI last summer.
Ranui would have gone on to be a 5th year medical student and Lucy would have been a 4th year medical student this year, but both elected to stay on at the GMRI after their summer placement to do a year of research, working towards BMedSc(Hon) degrees at the University of Otago.
Ranui has a scholarship grant from Pub Charity and is investigating cancer stem cells in tongue cancer, based on the GMRI’s radical concept that cancer stem cells are central to the understanding and future treatment of cancer.
So far Ranui has made excellent progress in characterising a sub-population of cancer stem cells in tongue cancer.
“GMRI has a progressive, forward thinking attitude to research, which makes it an exciting place for me to be, and I feel privileged to be given the opportunity to participate in research with such high calibre scientists at this early stage of my training,” says Ranui.
Lucy has recently received a Freemasons Scholarship and is working on erythropoiesis (making red blood cells). The GMRI has already successfully created red blood cells from stem cells derived from strawberry birthmarks.
Lucy’s project is to investigate methods of speeding up the process of making these cells by adding certain short chain fatty acids.
“Research is quite different to medicine, which can be quite broad. I enjoy looking for answers where there aren’t any,” Lucy told the Dominion Post in a recent article about her scholarship.
Both Ranui and Lucy will return to the University of Otago next year to complete their medical degrees.
To read about cancer stem cells please click here.