Penny Whiley wins first place in the 3-Minute Thesis Faculty Final
After placing first in the senior category of the School of Clinical Sciences competition, Hudson Institute PhD candidate, Ms Penny Whiley, has gone on to win first place the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition. Her presentation explains how her research into a very ‘importin’ protein called Importin 5 (IPO5) will identify processes that are essential for male fertility: ‘Very ‘Importin’ Proteins make Very Important People!’. Penny is undertaking her PhD in the Testis Development and Male Germ Cell Biology Research group (Supervisor: Professor Kate Loveland) within the Centre for Reproductive Health.
About Penny’s research
Male infertility is becoming increasingly common, and unfortunately in Australia 1 in 100 men don’t produce any sperm at all, a medical condition called ‘azoospermia’. “Our lab discovered that deletion of IPO5 in the cells that are precursors to sperm causes male sterility in mice, which is identical to that seen in men with azoospermia. This suggests that IPO5 is vital for sperm production” Penny says.
In her talk, Penny cleverly describes how the IPO5 protein acts like a truck and transports a very specific set of cargo from the cytoplasm of a cell and delivers it into the nucleus where it’s put to work. As part of her PhD, Penny is using an antibody to capture the IPO5 protein and its cargo in the germ cells and will use a mass spectrometer to identify what each of these important cargo proteins are.
How can this research improve male reproductive health?
Penny explains “Our research will identify the proteins that are critical for sperm development. This project will help us understand how and why conditions like azoospermia exist and ultimately provide avenues for developing new therapies so families can keep making their very own VIPs.”
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