Meet the Baker Department’s alumni

We are training our graduate researchers to transform our understanding of health and disease

From the heart

Dr Charles Cohen (pictured above) submitted his PhD at La Trobe in 2022. Today he is a Cardiac Cell Biologist at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute.

We asked Dr Cohen about his PhD journey, his research and the next exciting chapter in his career.

Family connection. When I was young, my mother passed away from sudden cardiac arrest with no explanation. It is this experience that drives me to learn as much as I can about how the heart works and what causes heart dysfunction in disease.

PhD journey. I chose to do my PhD at La Trobe University because it offers a wide range of projects led by world leaders in their respective fields. La Trobe is a very welcoming and encouraging environment, which was important to me as a postgraduate student. It also offered me flexibility, with a good combination of on-site and off-site study.

I was based at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute for most of my candidature. It was there that I was awarded the Paul Korner Medal for Outstanding Achievement, which was one of the highlights of my degree. I was incredibly humbled and attribute it, in part, to the incredible support I received from my supervisors.

Next steps. I am now employed at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute as a Cardiac Cell Biologist specialising in diabetes-induced heart disease in the Cardiac Cellular Systems laboratory. Soon, I will be taking up a new role at Johns Hopkins University in the United States, as a Research Fellow in Cardiac Immunology.

La Trobe gave me the opportunity to focus on the specific aspects of specialist research that I now perform daily. I love that I am now able to contribute to heart research in my mother’s honour.

Fighting cancer

Dr Jason Grealey is a Cancer Data Scientist at the Children’s Medical Institute. He’s applying the skills he learned during his PhD at La Trobe to understand the cancer proteome.

Valuable experience. I was awarded a PhD scholarship that allowed me to be supervised by researchers at La Trobe University and the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute. My laboratory was situated between The University of Cambridge (UK) and Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute (Australia) which allowed for me to be involved in fast-paced research with international collaborations.

One of the highlights of my PhD was seeing my name on a peer-reviewed paper. It was fantastic! At the time, it felt like it was never going to happen, but then the manuscript was accepted, and I was able to appreciate all the hard work it took to get it published. Another highlight was receiving my PhD completion letter.

At the forefront. I am now a Postdoctoral Research Officer at Children’s Medical Research Institute. I’m very grateful to have learned a number of important skills throughout my PhD which include presenting key findings, developing feasible hypotheses and performing robust analyses. All these skills are vital for performing high-quality research.

I also learned valuable machine learning and data science techniques that I use in my current work in understanding the cancer proteome. I am incredibly grateful that I can contribute to cancer research using these skills I gained from my PhD.

Find out more about the Baker Department of Cardiovascular Research, Translation and Implementation on the website, Facebook and LinkedIn.