Clinical science academic strengthens ties with Thai researchers


Dr Rama Jayaraj practises cutting techniques during a research-training intensive in Thailand.

A clinical sciences academic has helped Charles Darwin University strengthen ties with researchers in Thailand following a visit to two leading universities in the South-east Asian nation.

Dr Rama Jayaraj, a specialist in clinical parasitology and immunology, said he had fulfilled an ambition to expand his specialist knowledge by working alongside researchers at Mahidol University and at Thammasat University in Bangkok.

He worked with Associate Professor Rudi Grams, a German-trained biologist who is renowned for his molecular research into the liver fluke parasite and also visited Professor Mathurose Ponglikitmongkol, a leading cervical cancer researcher into Human Papiloma Virus at Mahidol University.

“I was particularly interested in their immunolocalisation techniques, which in general, help identify the location of molecules or structures within cells or tissues,” Dr Jayaraj said.

“It is an area of growing interest at CDU, especially as a couple of our PhD candidates next year will begin exploring immunolocalisation as it applies to some of the parasites found in the Northern Territory.”

Dr Jayaraj said Thai health academics had conducted some outstanding research into cancers with a parasitic cause.

“In many cases it comes down to drinking contaminated water. As a developing country, it is not uncommon in parts of Thailand for humans and animals to share water. Parasites in faecal material are inadvertently ingested by humans, sometimes with fatal consequences.”

Dr Jayaraj said he took the opportunity to showcase some of CDU’s cancer research studies to the staff and research students at both universities.

“I presented a seminar on the prognostic impact of (the proteins) P53, 4E and P16 in identifying tumour cells in oro-pharyngeal (head and neck) cancers in Northern Australia.”

Dr Jayaraj said the visit, funded by the Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Research Network for Parasitology, had been mutually beneficial.

“Not only did they show a lot of interest in what I had to say, but it was also a great professional development exercise for me.

“I learned many tropical based clinical researches, which I will share with colleagues to expand the skill base at CDU.”

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