Student Awards

2017 Academic Excellence: Postgraduate (Research) Awards

From fighting cancer to developing new medicines, to eliminating hunger, the winners in the postgraduate research category have completed significant research aimed at improving the lives of people around the world. We invited them to share their stories.

Winner: Ngoc Khac Linh Tran from Vietnam

Studying: Doctor of Philosophy (Medicine) at Flinders University
(Pictured: Ngoc Khac Linh’s wife and son accepting the award on his behalf)

Using research to make cancer treatment more affordable

Ngoc Khac Linh had already achieved much in his career as a urology clinician and university lecturer, however his desire to learn how to translate basic research into clinical practice brought him to Adelaide to study for his PhD.

He won the highly competitive Australia Awards scholarship to study prostate cancer biology at the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer. Here, Ngoc Khac Linh faced a steep learning curve to understand laboratory research in the field of molecular medicine and cancer pathology.

What inspired you to take on PhD studies your field?

For many patients, especially those in developing countries, current cancer chemotherapy is too expensive making access limited to many. I am keen to find an affordable therapy that can achieve the same or better results. My work is about the potential to develop a new anti-cancer drug by repurposing a current non-cancer drug for use in cancer therapy.

In our study, we showed that translation from basic science to clinical trial took only 2-3 years, not 10-15 years. I hope that saving time and cost in the study will ultimately help the patients have access to affordable cancer therapy.

Where has your study been published?

My study has been published in a high-impact journal, Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, providing the basis for a phase one clinical trial.  I have also presented at 12 regional and international conferences, and published 28 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Describe what receiving this award means to you

Winning this award is a great validation of what I’ve achieved to date. It’s recognition that I am on the right path and boosts my confidence to continue my research. I am proud to set an example for my son and show him that hard work and passion leads to success.

What’s your favourite thing to do in Adelaide?

I love Adelaide beaches, especially Brighton which was not far from my home. My family and I also liked to explore the wildlife parks, which are wonderful for children.


Highly Commended: Ahmad Abu Helwa from Jordan

Studying: Doctor of Philosophy (Pharmacy) at the University of South Australia (UniSA)

To pursue his dream of becoming a prominent scientist, Ahmad secured the support of two prestigious scholarships – the UniSA President Scholarship and the Australia Awards-Endeavour Postgraduate Scholarship, allowing him to commence his PhD studies in 2014.

Ahmad transitioned smoothly to life in Adelaide, quickly securing casual work as a tutor. He volunteers as a teacher at Alfarouq Arabic Weekend School and participates in community events like the National Mosque Open Day.

Through his dedication, Ahmad was published in 15 journals and presented at several conferences. His research is being used to support Mayne Pharma’s development of a new drug formulation, and he continued his work as a post-doctoral fellow after being awarded a 3-year SIEF STEM+Business Fellowship.

A year after Ahmad commenced his PhD, he married his fiancé. They are enjoying newlywed life in Adelaide, and love to take drives on the weekends visiting places like the Blue Lake in Mount Gambier.


Highly Commended: Iffat Ara from Bangladesh

Studying: Doctor of Philosophy (Science) at The University of Adelaide

With a goal to eliminate world hunger, Iffat came to Adelaide to study for her PhD in science, working on a thesis entitled, Spatial Analysis of Food Security in Bangladesh based on Climate Change, Management Practices, and Socio-Economic Variables.

The outcomes of Iffat’s research recommends several initiatives to improve food policy in Bangladesh. During her studies, Iffat received many awards and prizes including the Postgraduate Award at the 2017 Asia Pacific Spatial Excellence Awards SA.

Iffat has immersed herself in her community, making friends with his colleagues and volunteering as a program presenter on Radio Bangla Adelaide, bringing the Bangla language and Bengali music to South Australians.

After completing her PhD studies, she aims to become a top spatial scientist and food security researcher, continuing her work to help eliminate hunger around the world.

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