For Jeremy Shonberg, communicating the possibilities of the dopamine D2 receptor is a lot like teaching kids to ski.
I was originally drawn to medicinal chemistry because it involves a lot of problem solving and can deliver interesting results and great benefits in terms of drug design. When I completed my Bachelor of Medicinal Chemistry at Monash, I was keen to do some drug design research, so I did honours, which led to a PhD.
My research is focused on the dopamine D2 receptor, which is involved in a number of important disease states, including schizophrenia and Parkinson's Disease. We're looking at making molecules that target this receptor. We synthesise novel drug-like compounds and then test them.
It's interesting work that's yielding valuable results in addressing disease states that are devastating for the general population. We've broken new ground in terms of understanding how current and future drugs can better manage and treat these disease states. I've recently completed my PhD, so now I'm focusing on following through on the research findings, publishing the work and submitting articles to peer review journals.
A PhD is a great opportunity to extend yourself and broaden your horizons. I travelled overseas several times throughout my PhD work, and made presentations at multiple international conferences. Monash is full of positive energy and people who are really focused on their work and very good at what they do. It fosters a really positive, productive environment. The Parkville Postgraduate Association is a big part of the student experience. I was president and vice-president. It ensures students have strong support and welfare networks. And a social life-you need to put down the pens and beakers now and then.
My favourite time when I'm not in the lab is spent skiing. Between my honours and PhD, I worked as a kids' ski instructor for six months in Canada. It was a tremendous experience. It was fun. It was hard work. I was pretty much on skis every single day. When you're working with kids, you have to be really clear and simple. You have to understand what level they're on and think like they think. And it's exactly the same when you're making a presentation to anyone, anywhere. You have to think, how can I say this clearly and simply? How can I make sure people understand what I'm talking about?
You can learn a lot about the world and yourself teaching kids to ski.
Jeremy was awarded a prize for best poster presentation at the European Federation for Medicinal Chemistry's 22nd International Symposium on Medicinal Chemistry in Berlin in September 2012. From 620 entrants, Jeremy was one of ten-and the only Australian-to win a prize. The symposium is one of the leading medicinal chemistry meetings, attracting around 1500 participants from around the globe.