Juvita Iljas, mentee in the 2019 MedTech-Pharma program in QLD (The University of Queensland)

Juvita Iljas is currently in her last year of her PhD in the field of Reproductive Biology at UQ Centre for Clinical Research in Australia. Before embarking on her PhD she obtained her master’s degree in Regenerative Medicine from Universiteit Utrecht in the Netherlands. During her master’s she did two internships focusing on tissue repair and regeneration. The first internship was focused on stimulating intervertebral disc cells with growth factors to produce more matrix, which can benefit patients with hernia. The second internship was focused on understanding how silver dressings can improve tissue repair after a burn wound. From her internships she realized that performing research is good to obtain knowledge to solve a problem. However, she believes not to stop at that point, but to translate knowledge into a product that can be beneficial for patients. From this moment on, a career in industry was appealing for her to pursue.

To have a taste in the world of industry she worked for a year as a research assistant in a biotech company in the Netherlands. The company was focused on optimizing devices in diagnosing various diseases with only small amounts of serum. Also, with this experience she realised that hard lab work and quality controls are crucial in bringing a product into the market. She learned that collaborations are important in speeding up the process by discussing problems and finding solutions. Currently, my PhD project is in the field of oocyte biology. Women who are obese of 35 years old are known to experience a decline in fertility. In this project, I work with transgenic mouse models to understand the role of a gene in female fertility. At this moment the project is more about understanding the biological process of the gene with ageing and obesity.