PhD student Alexandria Driessen wins 2018 Mendelsohn Student Lecture Award & 2018 Picchi Brothers Asthma Foundation Award

Alexandria Driessen (Phd student, Anatomy & Neuroscience) has recently been awarded the 2018 Picchi Brothers Asthma Foundation Award. In October, she was also awarded the 2018 Mendelsohn Student Lecture Award.

The University of Melbourne and Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health's Mendelsohn Student Lecture Award recognises and honours an outstanding student in the Neurosciences and provides them with the platform to deliver a lecture to communicate the outcomes of their graduate research to the Neuroscience community, alongside presentations delivered by some of the most eminent scientists from Australia and beyond. The Mendelsohn Student Lecture Award honours Professor Emeritus Fred Mendelsohn.

Alexandria presented her Mendelsohn Student Lecture on 'Investigating the role of paratrigenminal nucleus in processing respiratory sensations' at the Melbourne Brain Symposium late in October. At the Symposium she also received her trophy and $500.

The Picchi Brothers Asthma Foundation Award recognises and rewards $10,000 to a current or recent Masters by Research or PhD student of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences for outstanding novel research in the field of asthma and respiratory disease.

The Picchi Brothers Asthma Foundation Award will allow Alexandria to further her research development and support a successful research career.

Alexandria Driessen (PhD student, Anatomy & Neuroscience) at the Melbourne Brain Symposium

Alexandria describes her area of research: "Unpleasant sensations arising from the lungs contribute to patient morbidity in many respiratory diseases. However, very little is known about the neural pathways in the brain that give rise to these sensations, and as such current medicines are ineffective at controlling them."

Her PhD research aims to address this phenomenon by looking at neural pathways regulating the production of cough and the sense of needing to cough (clinically: urge-to-cough).

"Using neuroanatomical tracing, neuropharmacology and behavioural studies I discovered a novel neural circuit involved in the processing of airway sensory information in the brain stem. My studies will now allow us to identify therapeutic targets to alleviate respiratory discomfort associated with pulmonary diseases and in turn significantly improve quality of life in patients."

On her awards, Alexandria said: "I am enormously grateful for both these awards, which have acknowledged the success of my PhD and allowed me to showcase my research."

Congratulations to Alexandria for her amazing achievements!

Alexandria Driessen with her Mendelsohn Student Lecture Award