17 December 2020

Leanne Jiang wins national three-minute thesis prize

The ability to explain her research project in an interesting and engaging way has earned PhD student Leanne Jiang (Perron Institute and UWA) first prize in the Australasian Neuroscience Society three-minute thesis (3MT) competition.

Leanne is a member of the institute’s Motor Neurone Disease and Therapeutics Research group. Her talk was titled: A Guide: Solving the Murder of Mitochondria in Motor Neurone Disease.

Motor neurone disease initially affects the central nervous system and skeletal muscles – both of which require the most amount of energy in the human body.

Leanne’s PhD thesis involves identifying pathways that kill mitochondria, the organelles (specialised structures within cells) that aid the production of cellular energy.

The first part of her research focuses on the genetics/DNA of people with MND. The second involves identifying how mitochondria interact with proteins that fold incorrectly causing ‘clogging’ in the body. The last investigation is to understand how mitochondria react with each other during motor neurone death.

“I feel enormously honoured to be awarded this prestigious prize,” Leanne said.

“A 3MT is nerve racking on the best of days. All the finalists from across Australia and New Zealand gave fantastic, award winning talks.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to expand the presentation skills I’ve gained during my undergraduate degree and into my PhD studies.

“I’m extremely grateful to the ANS for hosting such a wonderful competition. Special acknowledgement is due also to my supervisors, Associate Professor Jenny Rodger, Professor Anthony Akkari, Emeritus Professor Alan Harvey, Professor Merrilee Needham, and Dr Shyuan Ngo for their ongoing support for me as a PhD student.”

Leanne’s $500 prize was sponsored by the Chen Institute. She plans to put this towards her PhD-related travel interstate in the new year.

Leanne also won the Perron Institute 3MT earlier this year.

Congratulations, Leanne!

Leanne Jiang Neuroscience student