Published on 6 January 2014
Twelve Biomedical Science students have started a University of the Sunshine Coast pilot education project to learn clinical assisted reproductive techniques to better prepare them for working in the field of IVF (in vitro fertilisation).
The intensive summer scholarship course, which finishes at the end of January, is training the USC students in IVF and clinical embryology laboratory techniques.
USC Biomedical Science Discipline Leader Dr Mark Holmes said students were doing practical studies in the USC laboratories alongside highly-experienced IVF scientists and lecturers including USC tutor Di Seels, Peter Jackson of Coastal IVF in Maroochydore and Emma Ebinger of Brisbane’s City Fertility Centre.
The course has been well supported by Australian companies servicing the IVF field, including Cook Medical, Origio Australia, Merck Serono Australia, MSD and Vitrolife.
“The USC students will also spend two days on work placement at a City Fertility Centre clinic in Brisbane,” Dr Holmes said.
He said lecture topics included molecular biology, the physiology and anatomy of human reproduction and pregnancy, regulation and ethics in clinical embryology, laboratory workplace health and safety, and assisted reproductive techniques.
“The course aims to provide undergraduates with foundation skills and competencies used in clinical embryology and the exposure to industry that will give them an edge when applying for work in the IVF area,” he said.
“It’s not just human embryology. The students could also do agricultural work, such as assisted reproductive techniques for animals. There is great demand for this internationally.”
Student Donna Langley, of Eumundi, said she was delighted to join the course and passionate about using science to help people.
“I’ve been there for friends who have gone through IVF and I just think it’s a great area to research – there’s still so much unknown about it,” she said.
The former Melbourne hairdresser moved to the Sunshine Coast and started her USC Biomedical Science degree in 2011 for a career change.
She currently works in the private health sector as a senior therapy assistant for orthopaedic rehabilitation.
Dr Holmes is funding the course with $5,000 he received last year for winning the USC Vice-Chancellor and President’s Medal for Excellence in Learning and Teaching.
“If this is successful, we hope it will become a summer elective course or expanded into a postgraduate program, with the aim of attracting both domestic and international students to USC for IVF training,” he said.
— Julie Schomberg