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Scientists take research to North Queensland students

School students in Queensland’s far north have heard from scientists at the forefront of discovery when the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute took its education program on the road this week.

The program is helping inspire the next generation of medical researchers in line with the national priority to increase skills in science, technology engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The travelling program has visited Cairns State High School, Saint Augustine’s College and Mareeba High School over the next two days, and surrounding schools also attended.

Several scientists from the Institute took time out of their laboratories to fill the teenagers in about their latest research projects.

Dr Antonia Pritchard talked to the Year 11 and 12 students about understanding and curing melanoma, while Associate Professor Sarah Medland spoke about the relationships between brains, genes and behaviour.

Dr Maggy Sikulu’s presentation was about mosquito behaviour and management, while Dr Jonathan Darbro discussed ways scientists are working to improve dengue control.

Dr Liam St Pierre from QIMR Berghofer’s Education Laboratory said the program aims to inspire promising students to consider science as a career path whether they attend school in Brisbane or Cairns.

“To find better cures, treatments and ways to prevent diseases we need to engage the brightest young minds,” Dr St Pierre said.

“To do that students need to understand the exciting possibilities working in research can present.

“Furthermore, even for students who don’t go on to take up science as a career, it is vital that the general Australian population have an appreciation of the critical work being done in medical research and how it will affect their lives in the future.”

QIMR Berghofer’s Manager of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research, Greg Pratt, also talked to schools about opportunities for students to gain an insight into studying medical research or health science at university.

For more information about QIMR Berghofer’s education program, visit