Ellen Potoczky, mentee in the 2019 MedTech-Pharma program in SA (The University of South Australia)

Ellen completed a Bachelors degree in Biomedical Science in 2016 at the University of Adelaide, majoring in Genetics and Biochemistry. During her undergraduate years she took part in a 6 week placement in the Lymphatic Development Laboratory with Associate Professor Natasha Harvey, focusing on defining the mechanisms by which GATA2 controls the growth and development of lymphatic vessels. In 2017, she joined the Neurovascular Research Laboratory as an Honours student under the supervision of Associate Professor Quenten Schwarz, before transitioning to a PhD in 2018. Her research utilizes genetically-modified zebrafish models with lower jaw defects to investigate how a specialised stem cell population, termed the neural crest, control craniofacial development. Craniofacial birth defects affect approximately 1/700 live births, with infants experiencing breathing, chewing and swallowing difficulties. Current treatments involve multiple reconstructive surgery, often with on-going medical care, therefore alternative, less-invasive treatments are essential. Combining advanced imaging techniques with quantitative analysis of gene expression profiles, disturbances in key developmental processes are identified, and can inform on alternative diagnostics and novel therapeutics.