Biomedicine students connect with inspiring alumni

70 final year Biomedicine students met with some of the School of Biomedical Science’s most esteemed young alumni at the inaugural Career Roundtable Breakfast.

Graduating from the university can be both an exciting and overwhelming experience for many students. After years of study and hard work they turn their minds to planning the next steps, career planning, further study or full-time work.

The School’s very first Career Roundtable event held on 14 August, hosted by Professor Fabienne Mackay, Head of School, aimed to help students map career opportunities and highlight the diverse range of career and study pathways available following a Bachelor of Biomedicine. Be it the traditional medicine pathway - a Doctor of Medicine, Dentistry, Optometry or Physiotherapy – undertaken in one of the world’s top five biomedical precincts. Or further study in law, biomedical engineering, psychology, to name a few, or perhaps embarking on a vibrant biomedical research career.

Now in their final year of their degree, the group of Biomedicine students who attended the breakfast were given an opportunity to ask career journey questions, build their network and establish new connections with like minded peers and leaders.

Eleven accomplished alumni presented to the group and hosted lively conversations at each table. The burning questions of the day were: How did they find out what they wanted to do? How did they get to where they are in their career? What does a day in their working life look like? Students wanted to glean insights and expertise from the presenters who were armed with real world knowledge of the current professional landscape.

Highlights included the inspirational Dr Wendy Huang who now works as a General Dentist in Tasmania, having completed her Doctor of Dentistry at the University of Melbourne. “I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to have studied at the top dental school in Australia,” she says.

Nicholas Gheradin, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Godfrey Laboratory, at the Peter Doherty Institute, spoke of his successful career in research science. For Nicholas the Bachelor of Biomedicine really opened his eyes to a pathway that he previously knew very little about.

Phoebe Ling who completed her Bachelor of Biomedicine (with Honours) at Melbourne, then went on to pursue a research career. Later joining Cerner, a role she ‘stumbled across’, where she has worked managing and leading the implementation of several large clinical transformation projects.

Optometrist, Ruo Bing Wu, talked about the responsibilities of his profession and the conditions his patients present with - from anterior eye diseases, diabetes and diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and macular degeneration, and may even involve the initial detection of skin and brain cancers.

Dr Sakshi Singh who completed a Doctor of Medicine, is now training in psychiatry, studying her Masters at Melbourne and currently working as a psychiatry registrar. Sakshi also has a keen interest in the arts and cinema and plans to take a gap year to focus on her acting career.

Physiotherapist, Akshita Sundaresh is keenly interested in patient management following limb salvage surgery for sarcomas. She pursued a Doctor of Physiotherapy after her Bachelor of Biomedicine, realising the holistic approach to patient care was more suited to her. Akshita became a Senior Orthopaedic Physiotherapist two years ago and works across acute and outpatient settings.

Melbourne JD (Juris Doctor) student, Tal Maman is now in the final year of his JD. His passion for law developed during his Bachelor of Biomedicine where he studied several legal breadth subjects and has a particular interest and focus in intellectual property law. Students were fascinated by Tal’s story and the law pathway – and many, like Tal, had not considered this option when they first embarked on their Biomedicine studies.

I am grateful for the opportunity to talk to the alumni. It has given me some new perspectives to consider” one attendee said.

Sincere thanks to all of our inspirational graduates who attended and shared their leadership journeys – and to our talented Biomedicine students. We wish you the very best in your future studies and chosen career pathways and look forward to hearing of your successes in the coming months and years!

View the full line-up of participating alumni and bios below.

Nicholas Gheradin - Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Godfrey Laboratory, Peter Doherty Institute

After completing a Bachelor of Biomedicine at the University of Melbourne in 2010, majoring in Immunology and pathology, Nick enrolled in an Honours year through the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. Here, Nick developed a passion for lab-based research, and subsequently undertook a PhD between the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Melbourne and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. Nick’s PhD studies focussed on human T cell immunology, including the fundamental biology of a family of ‘unconventional T cells’, and their role in the haematological malignancy multiple myeloma. During these studies Nick built on the solid foundational knowledge gained during his undergraduate studies in Biomedicine to attain a diverse skillset in translational immunology, cellular immunology, biochemistry and molecular biology.

Nick currently runs his own research program as a postdoctoral fellow within the Godfrey Lab at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity. Nick’s work focuses on the biology of unconventional T cells including MR1-restricted MAIT cells, CD1-restricted T-cells and gamma-delta T-cells, exploring their antigen-recognition, effector function, and their roles in cancer.

Dr Wendy Huang - General Dentist, St Helens Dental

Wendy graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Biomedicine (2013) and a Doctor of Dental Surgery (2017). She gained invaluable experience by practising in various public and private clinics in Melbourne before relocating to the beautiful state of Tasmania. She has been practising as a general dentist at St Helens Dental since 2018.

During her Biomedicine degree, she majored in genetics and had an exchange at McGill University, Canada. While Wendy was studying at the University of Melbourne, she lived on campus at Ormond College and was the recipient of the Ormond Scholar Award in 2014, as well as the Sir Harold Dew Medical Scholarship in 2015, 2016 and 2017.She also won the Melbourne Global Mobility Scholarship in 2012 and was appointed as the University’s Dental Ambassador to promote dental health in local communities from 2013-2017.

Wendy is passionate about community engagement and dental health promotion. Since her relocation to St Helens, she has been involved in bringing dental care to the local aged care home and treating the needy patients within the facility. She also engages with the local schools for dental health promotion and preventive care for children. Wendy is currently registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Dental Agency and a member of the Australian Dental Association.

Phoebe Ling - Team Lead and Senior Consultant, Cerner Corporation

Phoebe is a Team Lead and Senior Consultant at Cerner Corporation - a leading health information technology company with a strong footprint in Australia, with over 70% of Australians having a Cerner electronic health record. Phoebe completed Bachelor of Biomedicine (Honours) degree in the University of Melbourne in 2012. She spent her early career in research at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, focusing on metastatic breast cancer and has published in many scientific journals including Breast Cancer Research, The Journal of Pathology and Oncotarget.

Since joining Cerner in 2015, she has taken on different roles to support, manage and lead the implementation of several large clinical transformation projects that help Australian hospitals transition from paper-based charts to EMR (electronic medical record) and digitise their clinical workflows, including Western Health, Alfred Health, Eastern Health and Monash Health.

In 2017, she led the largest implementation of Cerner’s genomics platform for all state-owned genetics labs across South Australia.

Tal Maman - Final Year Juris Doctor (Law) student, University of Melbourne

In 2016, Tal graduated the Bachelor of Biomedicine with a major in Immunology. Having sampled from several legal breadth subjects in his undergraduate degree, Tal developed a passion for the law. He is now in the final semester of the Juris Doctor at the University of Melbourne.

The intersection between science and the law has always intrigued Tal, and so he found himself naturally attracted to Intellectual Property. In June, Tal had the opportunity to complete a clerkship within the Intellectual Property team at Ashurst, a top tier international law firm. His knowledge about the immune system and its fight against pathogens became very valuable when he was tasked with filing and opposing pharmaceutical patents for the invention of novel drugs and technology. Tal acknowledges that it was particularly empowering to be one of the few in the large firm with specialist biomedical expertise that could be applied to the fascinating legal issues surrounding the protection of medical discoveries.

Among other things, Tal has also worked as a paralegal within the banking, construction and criminal law practice areas at different law firms.

Monica Nation - Epidemiologist, Murdoch Children's Research Institute

Monica completed her Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences in 2009, before working as a quality control microbiologist at a pharmaceutical company for two years. In 2012, Monica undertook an Honours year based at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), investigating the microbiological outcomes of a clinical trial using a probiotic treatment for infant colic (excessive crying of unknown cause).

Monica has worked as an epidemiologist/research assistant at MCRI for over six years, where she conducts laboratory work and data analysis on Streptococcus pneumoniae carriage studies and clinical trials being undertaken in low and middle-income countries, with the aim of improving surveillance, prevention and treatment strategies for pneumonia. To apply her background as a microbiologist with public health, Monica completed a Master of Epidemiology in 2018.

Sarah Parkinson - Physiotherapist, Back in Motion Physiotherapy

Sarah is passionate about empowering people to achieve their health goals by providing her clients with holistic advice, specific exercises and practical tools to assist their self-management, alongside hands-on treatment. She also loves sharing her passion for human anatomy and physiology to assist her clients in better understanding their conditions. 

Sarah has particular interest in the treatment and rehabilitation of low back, neck and knee pain, having completed further training in lumbo-pelvic dysfunction and Clinical Pilates. She has varied experience as a sports trainer in the Victorian Amateur Football Association, and through eye-opening volunteer placements in Vanuatu, India and Cambodia. Sarah's passion for improving both local and global healthcare has led her to a position on the Australian Physiotherapy Association Victorian Branch Council, where she represents all recently graduated physiotherapists in Victoria. 

Alongside physiotherapy, Sarah is strong advocate for the role all individuals can play, personally and/or corporately, in addressing the triple challenges of climate change, inequality and poverty, and volunteers in the global poverty and sustainability space.

Ruo Bing Wu - Graduate Optometrist, Specsavers

Ruo is a first-year graduate Optometrist working at Specsavers. His role involves conducting routine eye examinations, treating patients with anterior eye diseases, screening patients with diabetes and detection of diabetic retinopathy, co-management with ophthalmologist of posterior eye diseases including the most common conditions: Glaucoma and Macular Degeneration, paediatric optometry including binocular and vision problems, providing refractive error correction with optical aid including glasses and or soft contact lenses, seeing patients referred from General Practitioners and school nurses with visual concerns...  And the list goes on!

Viet Bui - Nurse, NorthWestern Mental Health

Viet is a post-graduate nurse in mental health at NorthWestern Mental Health, more specifically old age psychiatry. He finished his Bachelor of Biomedicine (Honours) in 2014 and Master of Nursing Science in 2016 at the University of Melbourne. In 2017 and 2018, Viet further improved his clinical nursing skills with two graduate nursing programs in medical/surgical and mental health with the Royal Melbourne Hospital and NorthWestern Mental Health. Viet has an interest in experimental neuroscience, through involvement with one of the laboratories at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health. Viet hopes to utilise his clinical experience for quality-improvement research through a PhD program one day.

Sakshi Singh – Doctor 

Sakshi completed her Bachelor of Biomedicine degree at the University of Melbourne and then went on to study a Doctor of Medicine. She continued her studies and training at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and subsequently completed her internship there too. Sakshi has always had a strong interest in mental health and commenced her training in psychiatry last year as a Royal College trainee. In addition, Sakshi is studying her Masters at the University of Melbourne and currently works as a psychiatry registrar. Outside of her medical career, Sakshi has a keen interest in the arts and cinema and has been working on films in Australia and India. She aims to raise awareness about mental health through her training in psychiatry as well as through her expertise in cinema.

Akshita Sundaresh – Senior Physiotherapist

Akshita completed her Bachelor of Biomedicine in 2011 and then went on to complete a Doctor of Physiotherapy with distinction. Akshita started her graduate year at St Vincent’s Hospital in 2015, rotating though cardiorespiratory, orthopaedic and neurological areas. She became a Senior Orthopaedic Physiotherapist two years ago and works across acute and outpatient settings. Akshita has a keen interest in the management of patients following limb salvage surgery for sarcomas and is hoping to complete further research in this area.

Holly Sizer – Final Year Medical Student

Holly is a final year medical student at the University of Melbourne. She grew up in a rural town, moved to Melbourne for University, and chose to be a part of the rural clinical school when she secured a place in medicine. Holly fell in love with mental health in her third year of medical school, started doing some research at Orygen Youth Mental Health, and her team has had some exciting achievements recently. Last year she decided that in order to affect change on a wider scale, she’d do a Master of Public Health, where she’s learnt about leadership, health promotion, health economics and policy, all of which she’s hoping to implement in her future medical practice.