Holsworth Biomedical Research Initiative

Significant milestones have been achieved within three months from the launch of the Holsworth Biomedical Research Initiative – including a novel research program for regional undergraduates studying biomedical science.

In April 2022 a donation from ecologist Dr Bill Holsworth and Mrs Carol Holsworth launched the Holsworth Biomedical Initiative. In just three months the initiative has:

  • Established a multi-disciplinary team led by LIMS cancer researcher Dr Donna Whelan – spanning molecular and cell biology, optics and physical chemistry.
  • Brought a group of year 12 students from Bendigo and Echuca to La Trobe University Bendigo to learn about the interdisciplinary spectrum of health and science degrees and professions, and get a taste of university life. A second program is scheduled for December.
  • Hosted 18 biomedical and science undergraduates from Bendigo and Albury/Wodonga campuses at the Bendigo campus. Working in small teams on novel research projects the students were exposed to 20+ hours of lab time, more than some participants had thus far experienced during their degree. The week culminated with a journey to Bundoora to present at the LIMS Fellows Symposium – an invaluable experience for undergraduate students.
  • Recruited post-doctoral researchers, and PhD and honours students in the Whelan Lab at LIMS, with a view to deliver high impact research.

Director of the Holsworth Biomedical Research Initiative, Dr Donna Whelan, said “the initiative will strengthen La Trobe’s world-class research into understanding human diseases, including cancer and genetic diseases like motor neurone disease.”

Dr Whelan’s lab is already leading the way in developing light-based imaging approaches to visualise, at a molecular level, the initial triggers of human disease. This additional investment will grow research capabilities and attract even more talented scientists to Bendigo.

“One of my key aims is to inspire the next generation of scientists,” said Dr Whelan, which is precisely what she was doing during the week of 3 July 2022.

Dr Whelan – with Dr Ebony Monson, Dr Ash Rozario, Dr Cheree Fitzgibbon, Dr Noni Frankenberg and Dr Stefan Wette – welcomed 18 of La Trobe University’s regional biomedical and science undergraduates into the state-of-the-art laboratories at Bendigo. Working on novel projects they carried out real research that will be used by LIMS scientists in future bodies of work.

At the end of the week the undergraduate students travelled to La Trobe’s Melbourne campus (Bundoora) and presented their findings at the LIMS Fellows Symposium, in front of over 130 academics and HDR students – a nerve wracking, “growth” experience for anyone, let alone a second or third year undergraduate student.

Growing the next generation of scientists from the regions is one of the key objectives of La Trobe’s Holsworth Initiative. Further programs will continue to grow and inspire the next generation including a 2022 La Trobe Biomedical and Health Science Summer School (3 days in December) for Year 12 students - with further initiatives to follow.