GMRI student research ‘far-reaching’

Sam Siljeecrpd

Sam Siljee

Emily Kean

Emily Keane

The Gillies McIndoe Research Institute (GMRI) has demonstrated that supporting budding science and medical researchers can achieve significant benefits.

Sam Siljee and Emily Keane are two of those success stories; they have recently co-authored a research paper which Sam says “is far-reaching in terms of the understanding of venous malformation”.

Sam and Emily are respectively fifth and final year medical students at the University of Otago.

During spells as GMRI summer students the pair investigated venous malformation, a condition of dilated veins that occurs at birth and can affect any part of the body. It is not only disfiguring, but can cause problems such as pain and loss of function, and can sometimes be life-threatening. There is no satisfactory treatment for the condition.

“The best part of this novel research is that we found the regulatory system for venous malformation, which can be controlled with the same drugs people take for high blood pressure,” said Sam.

“We can control stem cells in venous malformation and prevent the abnormal veins from forming. This is revolutionary in terms of potential novel therapy to address venous malformation.”

The findings, published in the journal Frontiers in Surgery in a paper titled “Expression of the Components of the Renin-angiotensin System in Venous Malformation”, have already been viewed 566 times since it was published in May this year.

Publishing anything in an international journal at the age of 23 and 25 respectively isn’t an achievement many of their classmates can lay claim to.

Both say their success wouldn’t have been possible without the guidance of GMRI Executive Director Dr Swee Tan and Chief Scientific Officer Dr Tinte Itinteang.

“Dr Tan and Dr Itinteang gave me free reign during my research but also offered guidance when I needed it,” said Emily.

“To work in an incredibly supportive environment, surrounded by people with expert knowledge in their fields, and to make discoveries, is invigorating.

“Although the research is still in its early stages it’s very satisfying to know I’ve contributed to the progress of medicine.”

As part of the requirements of their medical studies, Emily is currently posted at Palmerston North Hospital while Sam is working at Dannevirke Community Hospital.