Highlighted alumni

Dr Angela (Jinhan) Xie

MPharmSc 2009, PhD 2015

Current role: Research Officer, Children's Cancer Institute

My educational path commenced with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Pharmaceutical Sciences at Zhejiang University in China. This foundation allowed me to explore the field of pharmaceutical sciences, and I became extremely interested in cell biology, especially in the mechanism of cell cycle regulation.

Moving to Australia to commence a Master of Pharmaceutical Sciences was a very big challenge for me as it was my first time moving out from my hometown. 

My masters facilitated research in understanding the prostate cells proliferation and contraction during mouse prostate development. During my 2-year masters, my supervisor Dr Sab Ventura gave me enormous help and support, from training me how to use a pipette to run an organ bath experiment, most importantly, he taught me the aspects of the scientific mindset: curiosity, an open mind, scepticism and humility.

I felt that the natural progression after my Masters was to continue with a PhD. My research focused on understanding the role of putative tumour initiating cells in prostate cancer progression and therapeutic resistance in order to identify novel therapeutic target for advanced prostate cancer. Doing a PhD is very different from doing a Masters, it means that you are an independent and original scholar, pushing the boundaries of your field beyond what is currently known. During my PhD at Monash, together with my colleagues, we “work hard, play hard’’. There were tears when the experiment didn’t work, but there was always more laughter when enjoying the lovely sunset at the Friday beer club, or sharing a nice piece of cake in every Wednesday afternoon.novel therapeutic target for advanced prostate cancer. Doing a PhD is very different from doing a Masters, it means that you are an independent and original scholar, pushing the boundaries of your field beyond what is currently known. During my PhD at Monash, together with my colleagues, we “work hard, play hard’’. There were tears when the experiment didn’t work, but there was always more laughter when enjoying the lovely sunset at the Friday beer club, or sharing a nice piece of cake in every Wednesday afternoon.

Throughout my Masters, PhD and shortly after, I was a casual undergraduate tutor and lab demonstrator. I felt it important to give back to the University and found the teaching opportunities invaluable. I really enjoyed my time providing demonstrations and tutoring undergraduate students - it not only improved my interpersonal skills, but also further expanded my knowledge in biology and pharmacology.skills, but also further expanded my knowledge in biology and pharmacology.

In February 2015, I moved to Sydney to take a position at the Children’s Cancer Institute. I currently work as a team leader in the preclinical drug testing core of the personalised medicine program, aiming to identify tailored treatment for high-risk childhood cancer patients. I have found this work really enjoyable as we work closely with the clinician, and I can really feel the translation process from bench-side to bedside. Moving interstate to another institute was a brave discussion, but I would definitely still choose Children’s Cancer Institute if I could do this over again. I wouldn’t have learned or achieve so much if I didn’t step out my comfort zone in the first place.

Outside of study and work, you can find me hiking and camping around the national parks in New South Wales. Being in the wild and staying away from the modern technologies (smart phones, laptop etc.), is the idyllic way to truly relax and makes myself appreciate the wonders of mother nature. Besides these, I also love red wine, nothing can beat enjoying a glass of good pinot noir after a long day at work! - May 2017

Dr Soon Ee-Cheah

BPharm(Hons) 2008, PhD 2016

Current role: Data Scientist, Zendesk

It may just be rose-tinted glasses, but I recall in my first year of the pharmacy degree some of the lectures were still delivered via overhead transparencies, and there was a furious flurry of note-taking while the lecturer was speaking. Modern lectures induce far less anxiety and that's probably a good thing—but there definitely was a certain charm about overhead transparencies, especially those that had multiple layers.

When I completed my Pharmacy degree in 2007, I had my heart set on being a hospital pharmacist for my foreseeable career. I never thought that I would have the opportunity to explore such a diverse range of industries, and certainly never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have the opportunity to work in the technology sector.

Having completed my internship at The Austin Hospital, I went on to work as a clinical trials pharmacist at Nucleus Network (located at The Alfred Hospital's research precinct). There, I grew my interest in understanding the mathematics and statistics that underpin dosing regimen design. It was this interest that led me to return to the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, where I completed my PhD in 2016 under the supervision of Prof. Roger Nation (who taught me in my undergraduate years!), Prof Jian Li, and Dr Jurgen Bulitta.

During my PhD, I also began to investigate the link between pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, and bioinformatics. The blend of the three disciplines proved incredibly useful in understanding how antibiotic dosing was intrinsically linked to the development of resistance. Fortuitously, the skills gained during my PhD proved to be transferable when I found opportunity knocking at my door in the form of Zendesk, a technology company that offered me the chance to use my skills to infuse Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence into the Zendesk suite of products.

There have been many highlights along my journey, including meeting my now wife at a computing workshop, completing my PhD, successfully transitioning into the technology sector, and most recently, being awarded the Mollie Holman Medal for my PhD thesis.

The most exciting stages in my career have been when I've been able to transfer knowledge from one domain to another. The pharmacy degree is unique in that it forces students and pharmacists alike to integrate multiple disciplines, from pharmacology to statistics, right through to soft skills like empathy and communication.

I would encourage students to learn as much as they can from the faculty, look around them for problems that could be solved with the skills they've gained, and not to be afraid of trying new ideas in an established field. - May 2017