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19 May 2018

Day of Immunology: Engaging a new generation of researchers

Garvan’s researchers and Sydney high school students came together to explore immunological research, and to discuss rapidly evolving careers in research in STEM.

The next generation of scientists has arrived! On May 4th, they landed among researchers at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research. They came to participate in Garvan’s Day of Immunology event – a day of hands-on exposure to research and research careers, with a focus on all things immune system-related.

Inspired by the International Day of Immunology (April 29th) and run in collaboration with Australasian Society for Immunology, Garvan’s Day of Immunology brought together sixty eager high school students from across Sydney to engage with Garvan researchers from the Immunology Division. Students attended talks on basic immunology and STEM careers, asked questions, and participated in group discussions. They donned lab coats and safety goggles and made their way through six separate laboratories.

In each laboratory, students came to grips with cutting-edge biomedical research techniques that played out in real time – helping them understand how laboratory science can be translated into the treatment of real diseases.

For event organisers Dr Joanne Reed (Group Leader in Rheumatology and Autoimmunity), Dr Angelica Lau (B Cell Biology) and Julia Kiss (Public Engagement Officer, Garvan Research Foundation), highlighting the possibility of a career in research was key to the day’s activities.

Dr Reed says, “School students are receptive and curious, but many do not know what the future holds for them and what sort of options are out there.

“At the Day of Immunology, students engaged with a range of scientists at different stages of their careers, each with a different story about how they got to where they are now. I thought it was a really good way to reassure young people that there are many ways to become a scientist.”

Ms Kiss adds, “We wanted to give students the opportunity to step outside their high schools and inside our labs, to ask our scientists questions and get a taste for what the life of a medical researcher is really all about.

“Biomedical research is moving at warp speed – and, more and more, its outputs are shaping the way we live and the way we treat disease. There has never been a more exciting time to pursue a career in research.”

Events like the Day of Immunology help support high school science education by providing a unique experience that places students at the heart of biomedical research.

For Dr Lau, the event was an opportunity to think back to her own formative experiences in high-school science.

“I really wished back in my younger days I was exposed to more science and real-life medical research,” Dr Lau says.

“It was so lovely to see so many enthusiastic and curious faces asking questions, looking at specimens, carrying out experiments and being amazed by it all. I thought the event was a great success. The interactions between students and our Garvan researchers were great and everyone carried a smile on their face!”

And so do their teachers. Ms Gill Tangye, a biology teacher at Rosebank College, offered her positive feedback on the day, “Our students have had a once in a lifetime experience, and we appreciate the time and talents of all that made it such a rich experience for everyone!”

Garvan hopes to run a Day of Immunology event annually.


For further information about Garvan’s Day of Immunology and other outreach events at Garvan, contact the Foundation: