Improving Islet Transplants – Researcher in Focus: Seb Stead

July 29, 2015 0 comments

Dedicated to his studies, Sebastian Stead is taking an alternative pathway into a medical degree by currently completing a PhD within the School of Medicine at the University of Adelaide.

Working with the scientists from the Centre of Clinical and Experimental Transplantation (CCET) at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, Sebastian’s PhD project is hoping to find a new way to prevent the need for medications during islet transplants.

Islet transplantation is the transplantation of isolated islet cells from a donor pancreas and into another person as an innovative treatment and potential cure for Type I diabetes.

The research

My project is aiming to find new ways to prevent islets cells destruction to some extent and will be utilising nanoparticles as a novel immunosuppressive therapy to deliver medication directly to important immune cells in a more localised method than current medications.  If this treatment is successful it could be tailored to islet transplant recipients and hopefully prevent organ rejection, although this is very futuristic thinking.

This therapy has the potential to allow transplant recipients to live a life devoid of daily medication, which is the ‘holy grail’ of transplantation.

research to improve islet transplantation
Sebastian’s PhD project is hoping to find a new way to prevent the need for medications during islet transplants.

An alternate pathway

I’ve always wanted to study medicine. Since my secondary school studies I’ve been completing all the right tests with the hope of getting in and I’ll continue to do that. My PhD is known as an Entrepreneur PhD, which is a new thing starting out in South Australia. Open nationwide and linked to a few projects at the Cell Therapy Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre, this is how I got a scholarship through the Playford Trust. It’s an alternate pathway to medicine, but it’s good to complete a PhD regardless.

Getting down to business

Recently, I finished my first week of creating modules about how to commercialise my new idea from my research. This is the business side of medicine, which is another area I’m really interested in. I love the idea of owning a bio-technology company.

Kicking goals

I love this area – I think it’s fantastic and incredibly exciting.

I don’t regret where I’m at in my career whatsoever. My mentors, Dr Darling Rojas-Canales and Professor Toby Coates are amazing at everything they do and have essentially built up my lab foundations. While you get a lot of lab experience in an undergraduate degree, the things I’m doing now you can only pick up from experience.

The Playford Memorial Trust

This is an extra $25,000 over the next three years of financial support and also looks really great on a CV. It opens some doors to a very unique network for me, which is something that is important as part of this Entrepreneur PhD.

Out of the Lab

Since Year 12 I’ve always been pretty dedicated to my studies, but I do also love a little bit of music, spending time with my girlfriend who is also a researcher and I love to travel. My favourite place in the world is Vienna.

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