Mentoring the next generation of immunologists

28 June 2011

In comparison to international research organisations such as the National Institutes of Health in the US, or the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia, the Malaghan Institute is relatively small, both in terms of research budget and staff numbers.  However, Malaghan Institute scientists continue to make a significant impact in the global scientific arena and students who complete their postgraduate training at the Institute are sought after around the world.

A lot of this success can be attributed to the Malaghan Institute’s focus on mentoring.  The Institute’s research groups do not operate as islands, but instead promote the sharing of information and skills, whilst encouraging active discussion and lively debate – the ideal learning environment for young scientists entering the field of research.

Later this week our young scientists will have the opportunity to expand their knowledge even further at the 2011 annual meeting of the 2011 annual meeting of the New Zealand branch of the Australasian Society for Immunology.

115 research scientists from across New Zealand are registered to attend the conference, which will be divided into sessions on infection and immunity, inflammation, vaccines and tumour immunotherapy.  The conference will feature keynote speakers from Singapore, Japan and Australia.

“This meeting is an ideal forum for eminent New Zealand immunologists to enthuse our young scientists with their visions of the future for immunology research in this country,” said Dr Joanna Kirman, conference organiser and head of the Malaghan Institute’s Infectious Diseases research group.

“We are also acknowledging New Zealand’s founding immunologists with new student, research technician and postdoctoral fellow speaker prizes,” said Dr Kirman.  “Speakers are encouraged to present their research in a short ten minute talk and will be judged both by the quality of their presentation and how well they handle questions afterwards.”

“Immunology is an exciting and fast-moving discipline,” says Dr Kirman.  “It is important that New Zealand scientists are able to attend this meeting, as it provides an opportunity for us to develop new collaborations, share resources and unpublished findings from our laboratories. This meeting is also particularly valuable as it offers many students their first chance to present their research at a formal meeting.”  

Dr Kirman would like to acknowledge the following organisations for helping make this conference possible: Immunet (University of Otago), the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, Victoria University of Wellington, and The University of Auckland; major sponsors BD, Norrie Biotech, Abacus ALS, Beckman Coulter, and Stem Cell Technologies; and Huntingtree Bioscience Supplies and Sapphire Bioscience.