Publishing research is no small achievement


Former GMRI summer
student Chelsea Grant

It’s not every day a 22-year-old has their research findings featured in a leading international publication, the Journal of Clinical Pathology.

But former Gillies McIndoe Research Institute (GMRI) summer student, Chelsea Grant, isn’t your average young adult.  Her paper ‘Expression of Embryonic Stem Cell Markers in Keloid-Associated Lymphoid Tissue’ was published in that journal in March.

Chelsea’s accomplishment was the culmination of work she undertook with Dr Tinte Itinteang and Dr Swee Tan at the GMRI during and after her summer stint in 2013/2014.

Her project centred on keloid scar, a condition characterised by excessive scarring of the skin that occurs following minor injury.  Currently there is no satisfactory treatment for this condition.

She concentrated on the cellular characteristics of keloid scar tissue, focusing particularly on primitive cells and collagen production in cells.

“We were the first to discover primitive cells in keloid-associated lymphoid tissue,” says Chelsea.

The team at the GMRI believe these primitive cells are the origin of keloid scars.

“I was very excited that my research uncovered something novel that broadened our understanding of the development and growth of keloid scars.”

Being the first author of the research paper was a huge opportunity, she says.  And she wouldn’t have had that opportunity without the GMRI’s interest in supporting budding scientists and researchers.

For Chelsea, who already has a Bachelor of Biomedical Science degree from Victoria University of Wellington and a post-graduate Diploma in Biomedical Science from the University of Auckland, the international recognition is another feather in her cap.

“Having this research published is a huge asset for me, especially when many other people are coming out of universities with similar degrees.

“But I couldn’t have done it without some of the greatest scientists in the country genuinely valuing my input. The team led by Dr Tan at the GMRI are very passionate about helping the next generation of scientists reach their potential.”

For up-and-coming scientists and medical researchers such as herself, Chelsea has one tip.

“You don’t get into the scientific field to become rich and famous, otherwise the GMRI would be rock stars thanks to their life-changing work.

“Instead, do it because you really want to make a difference in the world and discover new things.”

Chelsea currently works for ESL Biosciences in Auckland. She will be moving to London next year to pursue new career opportunities.