The primary purpose for which the funds would be used is to attend a developmental biology technical course and seminar series at the Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory (CSHL) held each June at Cold Spring Harbour, New York in the United States.

This CSHL course is an intensive 3-week laboratory and lecture series and is a world-famous training ground for early career research scientists who seek to broaden their knowledge and experimental skills in developmental biology. This is a highly prestigious course taught by world leaders in the field of assisted reproductive technologies and provides a unique opportunity to learn cutting edge scientific techniques that are not yet available at the University of Newcastle.

For instance, among many other innovative techniques, this training course provides an introduction into the groundbreaking genome editing technology known as ‘CRISPR/Cas9.’ This course also instructs students in the micromanipulation of eggs and embryos, which allows researchers and IVF technicians to remove and manipulate an egg and embryo’s nuclear contents (DNA). This technique is currently being used to improve pregnancy rates in women with mitochondrial diseases and has shown some promise in the treatment of age-related infertility in models. Considering this, I propose that these widely applicable techniques would be highly valuable for our research team as well as other groups within The University of Newcastle and The Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) and would greatly benefit my work in developing therapeutic interventions for women choosing to have children later in life.

Upon returning to the University of Newcastle I would endeavour to relay the technical skills I acquired overseas to own research group and others across The University of Newcastle and HMRI and in this way, contribute to the ever-expanding research capacity of our Hunter institutions. The chance to receive training in a series of state of the art technologies and to share these techniques with our research groups would be a wonderful way to elevate current research outcomes to achieve a higher impact in the scientific and broader community.

I would also love the opportunity to attend and present my work at the leading international conferences in reproductive sciences. The International Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR) 51st Annual Meeting held in New Orleans from July the 10th- 13th 2018. The SSR conference is one of the largest and most prestigious of its kind and brings together the best minds in reproductive biology from across the world. The 2018 Gordon Research Conference on Mammalian Reproduction will be held, for the first time, in a non-US location on the beautiful hillside of Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Lucca (Barga), Italy from July 29 to August 3, 2018. Preceding this Conference, the inaugural Gordon Research Seminar on Mammalian Reproduction that is designed specifically for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows will take place at the same site on July 28-29. This conference is unique as it is geared toward early career researchers, offering a range of workshops for rigorous discussion on reproductive biology to receive valuable feedback on their project goals, discoveries, and future grant applications. Additionally, all attendees’ lodge together to further promote collaboration and discussion.

Another unique aspect of Gordon Research Conferences is an emphasis on the presentation of unpublished results and cutting edge advancements in the field in order to stimulate open discussions on emerging concepts and technologies. Throughout my PhD I have learnt the importance of engaging with researchers from other fields as their different perspectives can often provide unique insights into your data and future research.


Ms Bettina Mihalas

Research Area 
Project type 
Travel Grant
Year of funding