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Far north Queensland students get to pick the brains of world leading scientists

Two of Queensland’s most respected and influential scientists will visit several far north Queensland high schools this week to share their passion for medical research and encourage students to consider a career in science.

Geneticists Professor Nick Martin and Professor Georgia Chenevix-Trench have each spent 30 years studying the genetics of cancer and other disorders at Queensland’s own QIMR Berghofer, which is one of the oldest and most successful medical research institutes in Australia.

Professor Martin is internationally recognised as a leader in his field of genetics and has published more than 1000 papers on behavioural genetics, or the role our genes play in mental illnesses and different psychological traits. He has spent decades studying twins and improving our understanding of nature versus nurture.

Most recently Professor Martin helped identify the first eight genes associated with the debilitating eating disorder, anorexia nervosa.

Professor Chenevix-Trench is a world-leading cancer geneticist whose research is focused on discovering and understanding the genes that put people at greatest risk of developing breast, ovarian and other cancers.

Professor Chenevix-Trench also leads an international consortium focused on the breast cancer genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, which will help in the development of more personalised risk assessments and treatments in the future.

Professor Martin and Professor Chenevix-Trench will visit high schools in the Torres Strait and the Cairns region this week to discuss the importance of science for future generations.

“Research involves harnessing an inquisitive mind to find answers – and young minds are often the most inquisitive,” Professor Martin said.

“We want to chat with students about the great work already being done here in Queensland and hopefully sow the seed that a career in medical research is an exciting and rewarding option.

“We have leading researchers in our state who are working daily to find answers to diseases, disorders and health problems that affect us all.  We have to ensure the next generation is also inspired to pursue scientific discoveries and will continue the important work that’s being done.”

Professor Chenevix-Trench said she also wanted to highlight the value of diversity in science.

“Engaging people from different backgrounds, including regional, remote and Indigenous backgrounds in research ensures the questions we ask and try to answer apply to everyone, not just people in cities,” Professor Chenevix-Trench said.

“People living in the Torres Strait or remote communities have different experiences and often encounter different infections or sometimes health concerns than people in cities.

“QIMR Berghofer was established in 1945 to research the infectious diseases troubling north Queensland and it has grown and expanded to now research cancer, chronic disease, mental illness and infectious diseases – health concerns that affect all Queenslanders.

“We hope by going into classrooms and chatting with high school students we convince them that they can add value to the future of medical research if they choose to go down that path.”

Professors Martin and Chenevix-Trench will visit the Torres Strait on Wednesday and Cairns High Schools on Thursday and Friday.

To organise an interview with Professor Martin and Professor Chenevix-Trench please contact Gail Burke on or 0427 179 216.