Who would have thought that your precious furry friend could open doors in biotechnology? Ashton’s Archie did just that.

Through a neighbourly friendship with a fellow dog owner, Ashton Curry-Hyde was able to connect with the CEO of GenieUs Genomics, Matt Keon. The result is a valuable working partnership benefiting Ashton, her PhD research, Ashton’s supervisor Dr Michael Janitz, and GenieUs Genomics.  

Fortunately, Matt was aware of the Australian Postgraduate Research Intern Program (APR.Intern), developed to connect academic research labs and motivated PhD students with industry partners for short term research projects. The program is supported by the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment and MTPConnect’s Researcher Exchange and Development within Industry (REDI) initiative. 

Ashton’s work with GenieUs Genomics has involved applying the latest techniques in understanding the human genome to find new solutions for the neurodegenerative disease Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a form of Motor Neurone Disease. 

'My internship has involved analysing somatic variants in the genetic information of humans who suffered from ALS. I am using sequencing data from an ALS patient post-mortem tissue database to quantify the somatic mutation load in the donor tissues (those which are not germline variants (i.e., inherited). This type of analysis on non-inherited mutations is previously unexplored in ALS, meaning the research is providing a potentially novel understanding of ALS and its disease profile. Given the disease is degenerative and terminal, advancing today’s understanding of its typology is important to advance research, prevention and prognostic and treatment outcomes for those who suffer from it. 
Incorporating this analytical approach into GenieUs Genomics’ bioinformatic assessment tool will assist in the identification of molecular and other risk factors that influence the disease’s expression in ALS patients.' 

Ashton reflected on the benefits of the APR.Intern Program. These include: 

  • Support for the research work of her academic supervisor. 
  • Valuable analytical results to aid the development of GenieUs Genomics products. 
  • Experience that has helped Ashton gain insight and a better understanding of the practical research environment and business imperatives driving a project with commercial potential and real benefits for patients. 

Industry engagement

BABS engagement with industry and government helps students to develop the skills and networks to translate and commercialise biotechnology and life science research.

Careers and industry experience

Biotechnology students in BABS and UNSW Science are encouraged to participate in internships, industry placements, and relevant national and international programs to gain experience and awareness of career opportunities.