Pain is one of the most complicated ailments to treat because the symptoms and severity are subjective and current medications are associated with a variety of problems including addiction and abuse. This makes it tough for doctors to accurately assess patient’s pain levels and prescribe the best pain management tool for the individual. The complex mechanisms underlying pain are the reason why researchers can take decades to develop new treatments. Continue reading
Superstar of STEM and CNBP researcher Dr Sanam Mustafa has taken her outreach skills to Adelaide High School, speaking to approximately 300 Year 9 students (across two sessions) about her scientific activity, her career as a scientist and what it takes to succeed in a University environment.
“My talk was extremely well received by the students and teaching staff,” said Dr Mustafa. “They loved the personal stories and hearing about the light-focused science that we do at the CNBP.”
As part of her outreach activity at the school, Dr Mustafa also ran an interactive workshop for students, aimed at illustrating the importance of developing tests to quantify levels of pain for both human and animal populations.
“The students, in groups of about 10 were asked to discuss painful conditions that they had experienced and to try to find a common experience (maybe a paper cut or sprained ankle for instance). I then asked them to rate their pain from a scale of 1-10 to see how this varied within the group to demonstrate the subjectivity,” says Dr Mustafa.
“I then asked the groups to discuss if and why this subjectivity is a problem – such as inability of small children to describe pain, an inaccurate description of pain resulting in the administration of wrong medication and deliberate manipulation of pain scores for drug seeking behaviour.”
“Finally, I told the students how I hoped to develop a test to quantify pain to help overcome this subjectivity and showed them a slide demonstrating the ‘colour of pain’ from our ongoing hyperspectral work.”
“Feedback from the day was extremely positive,” concluded Dr Mustafa. “And it was fantastic to see so many engaged students actively thinking about science and how it has the potential to have such a beneficial and positive impact on society.”
Four CNBP’ers attended ‘Science meets Parliament (SmP)’, a high profile political engagement STA event held in Canberra, 13-14th February, 2018.
The event gives science, technology, engineering and mathematics professionals the chance to build a profile for their important work in the Parliamentary environment. This includes meeting privately with politicians to discuss areas of research expertise, as well as unique professional development opportunities focused on clarifying competing rationalities of science, politics and public policy.
The four attendees were CNBP Chief Operating Officer Kathy Nicholson, CNBP PhD student Emma Wilson from RMIT University, CNBP researcher Dr Lindsay Parker (representing Macquarie University) and Dr Sanam Mustafa (The University of Adelaide and a Superstar of STEM, Afternoon Chair on Day One of the event).
Feedback from all representatives was extremely positive with all gaining from their SmP experience.
Emma Wilson met with Western Australian Senator Slade Brockman for her Parliamentarian meeting.
“I told him about my work exploring fluorescent nanodiamonds so we can develop them as tiny light beacons to see what is happening inside our cells,” she said.
“I explained that the CNBP has created an environment where I can explore the fundamentals of the material with an application in mind.”
A major highlight for Emma was getting to meet some of her STEM heroes.
“I had a chat with Australian of the Year Professor Michelle Simmons,” she said.
“We discussed gender balance and equity and the importance of having quality mentorship for creating better scientists. We also discussed the inflexibility of institutes when it comes to accommodating people, both men and women, with carer roles.”
CNBP’s Dr Lindsay Parker was enthusiastic about the SmP event too.
“I met with MP Karen Andrews, who has been a member of the House of Representatives since 2010, representing the Division of McPherson in Queensland,” she said.
“Karen is the Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills and also a co-chair of The Parliamentary Friends of Science. I explained to her how small the nanoscale is relative to things such as human hair and bacteria. I also mentioned some of the materials we work with in the Centre such as nanodiamonds, how they are fluorescent and why they are excellent nanoprobes for use in neuro-imaging.”
Lindsay continued, “I sat next to MP Craig Kelly at the Gala dinner – he’s in the House of Representatives for Hughes, New South Wales. I spoke to him about my neuroscience research and how hopefully one day we can better engineer anti-inflammatory drugs to target the correct cells with less side effects during chronic pain and Alzheimer’s. I mentioned how CNBP is an excellent multidisciplinary Centre linking biology, chemistry and physics. He asked questions about how the drugs work and when they would be ready for use in humans.”
Lindsay summed up, “All of the politicians, CEOs and organisation heads at SmP clearly recognised the need to continue to promote and improve opportunities for women in STEM industries. Senator Michaelia Cash gave a particularly inspirational and enthusiastic speech about this at the Gala dinner and I was impressed that both she and my matched MP Karen Andrews were genuinely interested in science research and improving STEM promotion as a great career in Australia.”
CNBP was well represented at the STA ‘Science meets Policymakers’ event held in Canberra, August 8, 2017.
Researchers A/Prof Guozhen Liu, Dr Alf Garcia-Bennett, Dr Sanam Mustafa and Dr Hannah Brown all attended and heard a number of talks on topics ranging from ‘A Whole Government approach to Science Policy’, to ‘A Crash-course in STEM and Policy Making’ through to discussion on ‘Positive and Meaningful Contributions to Policy.’
A/Prof Guozhen Liu particularly enjoyed the ‘Working Round Table’ discussion. “We discussed the 2030 Strategic Plan for the Australian Innovation, Science and Research System, which will help shape future science activity in Australia. It was emphasized that Australia encourages both fundamental and applied research, and that research excellence is key.”
A/Prof Liu also noted the importance of effective communication between stakeholders. “Methods and approaches to drive effective and engaged connections between Universities, Government and Industry were topics that were explored and discussed in depth throughout the day.”
The ‘Science meets Policymakers’ event brought together researchers and practitioners from a range of science and technology disciplines, with policymakers from across government departments and agencies. Objectives included to make connections and to examine the intersection between the evidence base and actual policy development.
Congratulations to CNBP’s Dr Hannah Brown and Dr Sanam Mustafa, both from the University of Adelaide and both selected to participate in the inaugural 2017 Superstars of STEM program.
The program, implemented by ‘Science and Technology Australia’, supports 30 women employed in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to become highly visible public role models.
All participants will be trained in public speaking, media, and communicating with influence, with the objective of inspiring and encouraging young women in their STEM related education and study.
Opportunities provided by the program will include mainstream media interviews, speaker slots at public, corporate and Government events as well as support for local high school visits.
“This program will directly encourage young women and girls to study and stay in STEM – by speaking with them in their schools and workplaces, and by providing prominent public role models for them to aspire to,” STA CEO Kylie Walker said.
The program was launched today by Professor Emma Johnston (STA President-Elect) and Senator the Hon Arthur Sindodinos, Minister for Industry, Innovation & Science.
November 2014: High School Work Experience
Mr Julian Greentree spent a week in the neuroimmunopharmacology laboratory working with CNBP researchers Ms Vicky Staikopoulos and Dr Sanam Mustafa.
During this time Julian was trained in cell culture techniques and novel clearing histological techniques in the development phases for later rollout in biophotonics projects.
Time: 08:30 – 13:00
Venue: Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 381 Royal Parade, Parkville VIC, 3052
Cost: $25 (morning tea included)
Facilitator: Dr Sanam Mustafa, ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics, University of Adelaide
Register at: www.registernow.com.au/secure/Register.aspx?E=13907
This half-day workshop will introduce the interdisciplinary approaches adopted by physicists, chemists and biologists to address fundamental and novel biological questions.
Key cutting-edge technologies exclusive to the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) will be described along with examples of current and potential applications.
This workshop is an excellent forum to discuss the impact of these cutting-edge technologies on your research with CNBP researchers, who can then facilitate collaborations.
For further information please contact Dr Sanam Mustafa at firstname.lastname@example.org
Program information coming soon.