PhD candidate Natasha Berthold has been chosen to join the prestigious inaugural cohort of Quad Fellows, a diverse and dynamic group of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians from the Quad countries of Australia, India, Japan and the United States.

She will join 99 exceptional master’s and doctoral students in being sponsored to study for a year in the US.

Natasha, who grew up in Fremantle, is researching the genetics of eating disorders through the Perron Institute and UWA. Her primary PhD supervisor is Professor Anthony Akkari (Perron Institute and the Centre for Molecular Medicine and Innovative TherapeuticsMurdoch University), who was also her Honours supervisor.

Natasha is a person with lived experience of an eating disorder and is open about how this has shaped her research passion. Her research aim is to increase understanding of psychiatric disorders, specifically anorexia nervosa, to help develop personalised therapeutics.

When she learned she’d been selected as a Quad Fellow, she had just undertaken a summer fellowship at the University of North Carolina’s Centre of Excellence for Eating Disorders and was at the airport about to return home to Australia.

“I was half crying and half laughing, but I’m honoured to be part of this inaugural cohort and to have the chance to go back and study in the Northern Hemisphere,” Natasha said.

“It’s not only a fantastic opportunity to further my study, it also allows me to learn skills and make connections so that my research has the best possible chance to positively impact those who could benefit.

“It’s been a whirlwind two years and there is nothing else I’d rather be doing.”

Perron Institute Director of Research Dr Rebekah Puls said she was delighted that Natasha would have the opportunity to build important ties across partner institutions in Quad countries by taking part in this new scheme to help shape future science and technology leaders.

“As a post-graduate STEM researcher, undertaking a research residency in the US is a wonderful opportunity for her to develop her skills and autonomy as a young scientist,” Dr Puls said.

Last year, Natasha published her first journal article as lead author in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, collaborating with leaders including Dr Cynthia Bulik (University of North Carolina), Dr Sarah Medland (Queensland Institute of Medical Research), senior author Professor Anthony Akkari (Perron Institute and CMMIT).

She is also a member of the international Eating Disorders Working Group of the Psychiatric Genetics Consortium and the Social Media Committee for the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

The inaugural recipients, who are pursuing studies in 16 disciplines and 49 specialisation areas, were selected after a rigorous process by Schmidt Futures with fewer than eight per cent of applicants advancing to interviews. Students interested in the Quad Fellowships 2024, can register here.