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Student stories



Ashish Shrestha

The Research and Development team welcomes international students to take part in our research program.

One of our research students, Ashish Shrestha, came to us from Nepal almost three years ago and completed his PhD in 2016 supported by the University of Queensland International Scholarship.  Last year he was selected, along with seven others from around the world, to take place in an innovative program to train young investigators. His PhD research involves studying the risk of hepatitis E virus to the Australian blood supply, and he has extended his work to a similar study in his home country of Nepal, where he was collecting samples a month after the earthquake last year.

During his final year of research, he was selected to take part in the global training program known as I TRY IT, developed by the International Society of Blood Transfusion (ISBT) Transfusion-Transmitted Infectious Disease (TTID) Working Party. The aim of the eight-month program is to train young researchers to develop, review and report on research projects in transfusion transmitted infectious diseases. Ashish was enthusiastic about his experience. “We had an opportunity to learn from experts from the US, Germany and South Africa. The program included webinars and face to face meetings at ISBT regional conferences in London and Bali.”

“I believe I have chosen the right place to get involved in research. The Blood Service is an amazing place to explore ideas. With the availability of experts, and friendly and co-operative staff, it’s certainly an ideal place to learn and develop your ideas and skills.”



Htet Htet and Ben

Htet Htet Aung and Ben Wood

Research & Development is planning for a bright future, by training the next generation of researchers. After a year of practical training at the Blood Service to complete their university degrees, Htet Htet Aung and Ben Wood have stepped up and joined the team as full time employees.

Htet Htet chose to leave her home country of Myanmar to study in Australia. “In my country the education system is not really advanced, and I realised that in Australia I could have more opportunities and be quickly independent” she said. Since arriving in Australia five years ago, Htet Htet has completed a Bachelor of Medical Science (Honours) at Queensland University of Technology. In her final year, she honed her research skills with Dr John Paul Tung in the Blood Service’s Queensland laboratories. Htet Htet’s research project, which was inspired by a short vacation placement she did at the Blood Service, examined how the storage of red blood cells can lead to changes in their clot-forming ability. She has now relocated to Sydney, to become a fulltime employee in R&D. “I like that the Blood Service is supportive, collaborative and a really nice environment”.

Ben Wood has spent 2015 completing the practical side of his degree with Dr Lacey Johnson in Sydney, exploring changes in platelets as a result of cold storage. Ben has now completed the requirements for his Master of Science (Honours) from the University of Technology, Sydney. He explains his choice to pursue research at the Blood Service “The work we do here has a direct application.  It’s good to have that goal right there in front of you”. Ben’s culinary talents have been an unexpected asset to the Sydney team.  What’s Ben’s tip for a smooth Honours year? “It probably helps that my supervisor likes my cooking, and loves cats like I do!”.

Prof David Irving, Director of R&D says “In R&D we are trying to encourage some of the brightest emerging researchers to train in research relevant to the blood sector. It helps to strengthen our collaborations with universities, ultimately makes us more competitive, but most of all it’s a great pleasure to see these bright young scientists join our team”.

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