Meet our Early Career Scientist Grant Winner Shane Hellyer
Shane Hellyer is a researcher at the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences. The grant will be used to cover Shane’s attendance at the virtual National Ataxia Foundation's Ataxia Investigators Meeting (AIM), his ASPET membership fees and to help cover the costs of key mGlu compounds for his research.
I am so excited and grateful to receive this Early Career Scientist award from Hello Bio! With this grant, I will be able to attend the virtual National Ataxia Foundation Ataxia Investigators Meeting in May 2021, to meet with and learn from the experts in a field relatively new to me. Additionally, the grant will help me to purchase some important compounds for use in my research. Overall, the Hello Bio ECS grant will help me to continue to develop my independent research career. Shane Hellyer, Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Science, Australia, Hello Bio Early Career Scientist Grant winner
Congratulations Shane! First, can you tell us a bit more about what you're working on at the moment?
My current work is focused on the effects of naturally occurring mutations in a key receptor in the central nervous system called metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (mGlu1). mGlu1 is crucial for many aspects of normal neurotransmission and neurophysiology, and genetic mutations within this receptor are linked to a number of disorders including schizophrenia and rare forms of spinocerebellar ataxia. My research aims to rigorously define the effects of these mutations on both mGlu1 function and associated neurological processes, and to determine whether receptor function can be restored or modified pharmacologically.
What is it about your field of research that gets you most excited?
I really love diving deep on fundamental aspects of neurotransmission to advance our knowledge of how the brain works at a basic level. It is such a complex organ, but every little incremental piece of new information we discover is part of the larger picture. The idea our research may lead to a better understanding of the causes and potential new treatments for neurological disorders is highly rewarding.
Which scientists working today do you most admire, and why?
The scientists I most admire are those that are working at such high levels today despite numerous barriers being in their way throughout their professional and personal lives. Whether it is female scientists, scientists of colour or those who have overcome other hardships, the system isn’t always designed to help everyone succeed. Those who have succeeded and are doing amazing science despite these challenges are a massive inspiration to me.
What do you think are the biggest challenges currently facing life scientists and their work?Especially in Australia, funding is a big issue at the moment. Life scientists can’t do their groundbreaking (and often life-saving) work without funding and this can be hard to come by, especially for early and mid-career researchers. In addition, misinformation and a distrust of science among some parts of the public is making it harder for our work to be understood and used appropriately. Moving forward, better relationships and communication between scientists, politicians, the public and funding agencies are critical.
What’s your favourite science quote?
“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” ― Carl Sagan
Thank you so much Shane! We wish you all the best with your research.
Connect with Shane on Twitter: @Dr_Hellyeah
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