Summer student on the home stretch to being published

Max Blackwell

Max Blackwell

Max Blackwell enjoyed his first stint as a Gillies McIndoe Research Institute summer student so much that he applied for a second time.

Now 22-years-old, he is about to have two papers published in international scientific journals.

The University of Otago fifth year medical student has always had an interest in scientific research and had hoped to have his work published someday. However, he never expected it to happen so soon in his career.

“It’s exciting and definitely a big surprise. Going into the GMRI summer student programme I never thought that would happen. Especially being a first author on one of them, which is amazing.”

Max was initially a summer student in 2013/2014, when he studied pyogenic granuloma, a vascular tumour caused by over-granulated tissue. He investigated the presence of a haemogenic endothelium, consisting of stem cells that give rise to blood cells.

“It was a great experience and was very full on with a lot of work going into drafting the papers and the practical aspects.”

He then wanted to take the research further so applied to be a part of the next summer studentship programme over 2014/2015.

Max’s second research project looked at the presence of embryonic stem cells in pyogenic granuloma. He also worked on a project with Elysia Tan, another University of Otago medical student, investigating the presence of neuropeptide Y in infantile haemangioma (strawberry birthmark).

The findings he submitted for publication have been accepted and, after a few minor changes, will be published soon in the Journal of Cutaneous Pathology.

“It’s been a long process from the beginning until now, but we’re on the home stretch.”

Max also contributed to a second paper, Neuropeptide Y in Infantile Haemangioma, by Elysia Tan, which has been submitted for publication in an international biomedical journal.

Max, who is originally from Wellington, is currently on placement at Christchurch Hospital and is planning his overseas elective as part of his university studies. He has chosen to go to Rarotonga and Dundee.

He said his studentship at the GMRI helped him gain valuable research experience which will help his career in the future if he wants to explore more research opportunities.

“Being a GMRI summer student is a really amazing opportunity. I would highly recommend it to anyone else who wants to get a taste of the research world.”