The Charles Perkins Centre Summer Research Scholarship 2020 was one of 14 awarded to Yohaann Ali Ghosh to investigate developing a lab-based model of living human tissue.
Yohaann Ali Ghosh was awarded the scholarship - made possible by the generous support of University of Sydney alumnus Dr Barry Catchlove AM (MBBS, 1966) to work with supervisors Professor Hala Zreiqat AM and Associate Professor Steven Wise. The interdisciplinary Charles Perkins Centre project investigates growing living blood vessels such as arteries and veins, in collaboration with researchers from the Faculty of Medicine and Health and the Faculty of Engineering.
This generous scholarship from the Charles Perkins Centre meant that I was able to focus on a new area – surgical research – developing my existing skills and passions, enabling me to work with a world-class, multidisciplinary team, learning from the best.
Professor Zreiqat has also pioneered a 3D-printed ceramic implant that could transform the lives of millions of people with bone defects. The ability to use 3D print implants for head and neck cancer patients will revolutionise the field of reconstructive surgery, allowing patients to have their oral function restored, avoid permanent facial disfigurement and be able to eat properly, improving their health outcomes.
Yohaann was inspired to pursue medical research by his grandfather Professor Hemen Ghosh, a pathologist. “Sadly, my grandfather passed away due to an aortic dissection – a torn heart artery. Current surgical methods to address this syndrome are developing and I’m hoping to contribute to the research in regenerative medicine to help others. That’s why this scholarship and project has been so meaningful to me,” said Yohaann.
The scholarship started with an immersive experience at the Charles Perkins Centre laboratories where Yohaann was taught the basics of applied materials science and blood vessel cell culture by Associate Professor Steven Wise and his team. This included learning how to use the latest imaging technology for cell culture. He was also exposed to the culture of translational research fostered at the Charles Perkins Centre.
But it was a serendipitous encounter with Professor Jonathan Clark AM in the foyer of the Charles Perkins Centre foyer that changed Yohaann’s research trajectory. Professor Clark was appointed the Lang Walker Family Foundation Chair in Head and Neck Cancer Reconstructive Surgery in 2020, the first such chair in Australia, a partnership with the University of Sydney and Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.
“Professor Clark leads the head and neck surgery unit and a chance encounter meant that I was able to share my inspiration and desire to work in regenerative medicine to help others. It led to assisting on Professor Clark and Professor Zreigat’s project, a world-class 3D printed medical implant pre-clinical trial. The trial is building living bone using a 3D printed bioreactor implanted in living pre-clinical models at Sydney Imaging Hybrid Theatre in the Charles Perkins Centre.
“This generous scholarship from the Charles Perkins Centre meant that I was able to focus on a new area – surgical research – developing my existing skills and passions, enabling me to work with a world-class, multidisciplinary team, learning from the best.
Yohaann is now employed as a tutor in the Discipline of Anatomy and Histology, Faculty of Medicine and Health, and holds an appointment with the Head and Neck Surgery Research Group led by Professor Clark at the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. He continues to work for Professors Clark and Zreiqat.
“My current research focus is a direct extension of the trials I assisted in during my scholarship. I’ve recently had a paper accepted in the Journal of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, as well as completed two further papers arising from the research I undertook during my Charles Perkins Centre Summer Research Scholarship.
“It has been a very fruitful and invaluable experience professionally and, personally, I’ve felt that I was able to honour my grandfather,” said Yohaann.
Hero image: Photograph of blood vessel cells using fluorescent microscopy