Published on 5 September 2016
A University of the Sunshine Coast Master of Science student who maintained a perfect grade point average as an undergraduate is now researching a medical treatment for a potentially deadly cardiovascular disease.
Lara Meital graduated in October last year with a Bachelor of Biomedical Science and a grade point average of 7 out of 7.
As part of her higher degree studies, Mrs Meital is now working on a research project to determine how omega-3 fatty acids might be used to help people with abdominal aortic aneurysm, known as AAA.
“My GPA was the by-product of hard work motivated by an unexpected love of learning that was uncovered, nurtured and sustained by excellent teaching and a stimulating, supportive academic environment,” Mrs Meital said.
“When I began my studies at USC, I was entirely focused on acquiring a qualification. I had not expected to enjoy the experience or to love the learning process – I ended up doing both.
“USC changed my focus and direction and inspired what I suspect will be a life-long quest for knowledge.”
She was drawn to her postgraduate research project, supervised by Senior Lecturer in Biochemical Pharmacology Dr Fraser Russell, by its potential to address an unmet medical need.
“We will use cell-based studies, animal studies and a human clinical trial – the first of its kind in this patient population – to evaluate omega-3 fatty acids as a novel strategy for the treatment of abdominal aortic aneurysm,” she said.
“The condition affects up to nine percent of adults over the age of 65 years and no drug therapies to date have slowed the progression of the disease.”
The opera and cricket lover, who lives in Buderim, was recently rewarded for her academic achievements with a $4,000 postgraduate scholarship from the combined Rotary Clubs of the Sunshine Coast and a University Medal for Exceptional Academic Excellence.
South-African born and educated, Mrs Meital lived in Europe and the United States before moving to Australia 10 years ago when her husband, a doctor, worked in Western Australia.
“We fell in love with Queensland during a cross-country trip and decided it was where we wanted to make our home,” she said.
— Clare McKay