16 September 2015
A research team at the University of the Sunshine Coast that is investigating new therapies for vascular disease is starting to resemble the United Nations.
The VasoActive Research Group, which sits within USC’s School of Health and Sport Sciences, includes two research fellows and five PhD students who hail from six different countries.
USC’s Associate Professor and Senior Research Fellow Chris Askew, the only Australian in the group, enjoys leading the international team.
“I arrive in the lab and there’s accents from all over the globe - Greece, Germany, Canada, England and Brazil – it’s just brilliant,” Dr Askew said.
“Attracting such high-quality PhD students from leading overseas institutions in this field is an indication of the quality of research we’re conducting right here on the Sunshine Coast.
“Research activity at USC has increased dramatically over the past five years, particularly in the area of cardiovascular health, which is both a national research priority and a local health priority.
“Our focus is on the ‘neglected’ vascular conditions like peripheral vascular disease and abdominal aortic aneurysm, which reduce quality of life and can lead to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.”
Dr Tom Bailey moved from England to carry out his postdoctoral fellowship at USC with the VasoActive Research Group.
“I’d spent 10 years in Liverpool studying and doing intern work at places like the English Institute of Sport, but I wanted to gain international research experience,” he said.
“The VasoActive group is aligned perfectly with my own interests and, after speaking with Dr Askew, I felt that the team was heading in the direction I wanted to take my own research.”
Dr Bailey is overseeing a project investigating the potential benefits of exercise in patients that suffer from abdominal aortic aneurysm.
“I don’t take this opportunity lightly,” he said. “It’s not everywhere you can start your day with a view of the beach, work among wildlife and kangaroos and have the research support of a growing institution like this. I am very lucky and I am still pinching myself 10 months after arriving.”
PhD student and USC academic Meegan Walker grew up on the Sunshine Coast, just not the one in Queensland.
“I was born in Canada near Vancouver, ironically in a little place called the Sunshine Coast where my family still lives,” she said.
“I’ve been working at USC for the past 10 years in both technical and academic roles and started working on my PhD part-time in 2010 looking at blood flow and the mediators of blood flow control.”
The other PhD students in the research group are:
• Maria Perissiou of Greece. She attended the National and Kapodestrian University of Athens and continued at the same university to study a Masters of Science in Biology of Exercise, specialising in Sports Medicine. She started her PhD at the University of the Sunshine Coast in 2014.
• Timo Klein of Germany. He studied a Bachelor of Exercise Science at the German Sports University in Cologne, Germany, and went on to complete a Master of Science. He’s currently enrolled as a PhD student at both the University of the Sunshine Coast and the German Sport University.
• Mark Windsor of England. He completed a Bachelor of Science in Health, Exercise and Sport at Cardiff Metropolitan University and studied a Master of Science in Sports Physiology at Liverpool John Moores University. He started his PhD at the University of the Sunshine Coast in 2014.
• Annelise Meneses of Brazil. She completed a Bachelor and Master degrees in Exercise and Sports Sciences at the University of Pernambuco, Brazil. She started her PhD at the University of the Sunshine Coast in 2014.
— Megan Woodward