Meet our students

Meet our students

Nancy MouradNancy Mourad – PhD student, Bone Biology

"The passion and drive here is second to none. Being a world-class student requires world-class education, and a PhD from a leading biomedical research institute, such as Garvan, opens doors to achieving heights." 


1) Why did you to choose Garvan for your PhD? 

Initially I was considering doing a PhD at the university I completed my undergraduate degree at, however, after attending the PhD Open Day at the Garvan Institute I realised that it was a better idea to study for a PhD elsewhere as this would expose me to a different set of academic influences.

I was initially attracted to studying at the Garvan Institute because of the excellent academic reputation and impressive history. I have always wanted to progress professionally and academically and I felt as though the collaborative and innovative work environment provided by Garvan cannot be matched elsewhere. 

2) What do you enjoy the most about being a student at Garvan?

It is great to have the opportunity to study in one of the leading research institutes in Australia. The possibility to learn from and work with world-class leaders within the field is just incredible. Garvan serves as a forum for global networking for both local and international research which puts our longstanding ideas and concepts into a completely new perspective.

I feel that doing a PhD at Garvan has given me the opportunity to constantly learn and discover something new and to achieve something significant. The constant buzz of exciting research in cancer, neurodegenerative and mental diseases, diseases of the immune system, diabetes and obesity and osteoporosis and skeletal disorders is an amazing feeling. 

3) A word of advice to undergraduates who are thinking of undertaking postgraduate research studies:

Having a passionate and supportive supervisor is crucial to any postgraduate student. Choose a supervisor that will read through your work thoroughly, provide timely and constructive feedback on your submitted work and who is willing to listen and engage with you intellectually.


Laura Baker

Laura Baker – PhD student, Cancer

"Your PhD is what you make of it, there is a great community here and lots of wonderful lifelong friends and collaborators to be made."



1) Why did you to choose Garvan for your PhD?

During my undergraduate studies, I was interested in expanding my lab-based experiences through internships and became aware of Garvan’s Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP). I began working at Garvan during my third year of undergraduate studies, then continued working in the same laboratory group on a different project for my honours year. I was inspired and intrigued by my project and enjoyed working with my supervisor and the group. As a result, I continued to work through the Garvan to complete a PhD.

The Garvan provides an incredible change from on-campus studies; transforming the dynamic between student and supervisor and providing great student support to encourage students to work together and get to know each other. The colourful Darlinghurst surrounds also provide endless exciting lifestyle changes.

2) What do you enjoy the most about being a student at Garvan?

The Garvan is a great environment to study in as it provides a number of engaging programs aimed at getting students involved. Student-run committees organise monthly social and educational events and post doctoral fellow- student mentoring programs enable students to seek relevant advice and learn from other’s valuable knowledge and experiences.

3) A word of advice to undergraduates who are thinking of undertaking postgraduate research studies: 

Explore your options – be sure you know this is what you want to do. Investigate different projects and decide what you want to focus on. Choosing a supervisor is one of the most important things you will do. You project will present you with highs and lows, but a good supervisor will be able to guide you through it.

Be kind to your future self and boost your CV by getting involved in organising committees, presenting posters or talks at conferences and learning every new skill you can get your hands on.

Take advantage of every opportunity; be that involvement in student programs or sports teams, after-work drinks, conferences or chance meetings with people in elevators, this time is what you make of it: enjoy!


Jesper MaagJesper Maag – PhD Student, Genome Informatics

"It’s important to work hard to get your results, but remember to play hard and relax from time to time to keep your sanity." 


1) Why did you to choose Garvan for your PhD?

In my third year of studying for my Master’s in Pharmaceutical Sciences in Uppsala University, Sweden, I wanted to do something different. I decided to go on an exchange year abroad, and I set my eyes on Australia.  Afterwards I decided to stay and continue with a PhD in Australia. At the end of my degree I realized that working in the pharmaceutical business wasn’t for me. I wanted to switch fields and I realized that the courses I enjoyed the most in Uni were all related to Genetics. I had also read a few popular science books that sparked my interest for gene regulation.

I looked around all of Australia to find research groups working in that area, and I contacted A/Prof Marcel Dinger who agreed to take me on an intern in his new lab with the possibility to start a PhD.
Since I never worked in genetics, bioinformatics or even much with computers, I saw the internship as a way to learn all the necessary skills needed to pursue a PhD in the field.      

2)  What do you enjoy the most about being a student at Garvan?

Garvan is a great workplace. The best part of it is the social environment that exists here. It doesn’t matter if you’re a student, post-doc or a lab head everyone can hang together. Being an international student who didn’t know anyone in Sydney before I got here, it’s been really helpful in making friends.  The location of Garvan is also great with heaps restaurants around.

3) A word of advice to undergraduates who are thinking of undertaking postgraduate research studies:

Look up papers and Google scholar’s profiles of the groups you are interested in to see how well the group is doing. You want to set yourself up with the best in order to get the most from your PhD.

Never do a PhD just for the sake of doing one. You will be working on your project for three years, and it will constantly be on your mind.