Jack Rudrum’s hard work and passion for microbiology and immunology have earned him a prestigious scholarship and entrance to one of the world’s top ranked universities.   

His 2022 Fulbright Future Scholarship will enable him to embark on a PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  

Jack completed his Bachelor of Biomedical Science and Master’s degree at The University of Western Australia and received the Geoffrey Shellam Award for obtaining the highest marks in his Master’s cohort.   

For the past year, he has been based at the Perron Institute working for Avicena Systems as a Molecular Biology Technician. During this time, he published a paper about a rapid COVID-19 test with members of the Perron Institute and Avicena.  

Antimicrobial resistance has been described by the World Health Organization as a global crisis, rendering traditional treatment options ineffective and putting millions of lives at increasing risk each year.   

As a PhD candidate, Jack will focus on devising novel treatment options effective against multi-drug resistant pathogens. Specifically, this will involve isolating, purifying, propagating and then genetically engineering bacteriophages (viruses that infect and kill bacteria) by altering phage receptors in an attempt to target a wide range of bacterial strains.   

“I also hope to design a high throughput genomic sequencing pipeline for use in phage characterization, and to be involved in studying phage dosage and delivery within a therapeutic context,” Jack said. 

With access to specialised resources, Jack will be collaborating with highly regarded microbiologists. His PhD supervisors are Assistant Professor Kevin Esvelt (MIT), Assistant Professor Tami Lieberman (MIT) and Professor Paul Turner (Yale University).   

“I’m fascinated by microbiology and immunology to the extent that after spending the day in the lab or studying, I frequently use my spare time to read about pandemics and famous microbiologists. This is somewhat to the amusement of family and friends. 

“I hope to contribute to findings that may one day translate to creating a novel therapeutic or decrease the rate at which resistance develops to existing antibiotics.  

“I have thoroughly enjoyed working in a start-up biotech company, and I’m keen to start my own one day. I’m looking forward to MIT’s entrepreneurial and innovative culture.   

“I could not be more grateful to have worked with such amazing individuals at the Perron Institute and Avicena. I was incredibly motivated to come to work, knowing I had the potential to learn from passionate and dedicated scientists. I have learnt so much and will miss the good mates I have made.    

“I’m incredibly grateful to my previous supervisors, Associate Professor Anthony Kicic and Dr Thomas Iosifidis, for the opportunity to study and conduct research at the Telethon Kids Institute last year.  

“I’d like to acknowledge Professor Paul Watt for the opportunity to work at Avicena, and Rob Dewhurst and Tatjana Heinrich for their unlimited patience in answering my questions and helping me develop my molecular biology skills. I’d also like to thank Jaison Waithman for his insights into American culture and passionate chats about our mighty footy team, the Geelong Cats!  

“I have no doubt the next phase of my career will be demanding, but I look forward to the challenge.”