22 Nov 2016

CCS Doctoral Student profile - Shauna French

Shauna French and Dr Justin
Hamilton in the lab
by Eliza Watson

Shauna French is a PhD student in the Platelets and Thrombosis Lab at the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases where she is supervised by Dr Justin Hamilton. She studied a Bachelor of Applied Science and Honours at Queensland University of Technology, before  moving to Melbourne for her PhD on defining the role of protease activated receptor 4 in thrombosis.

What is your research about?

The aim of what we do is to identify new targets for anti-platelet drugs. They’re drugs that are used as blood thinners for the prevention of heart attack and stroke. Protease activated receptor 4 is one of those targets that I work on. I’ve been developing a series of new inhibitors of it and testing in various models to see whether inhibiting that platelet receptor is going to be beneficial in the setting of thrombosis for heart attack and stroke prevention.

Is this an area you’ve always been interested in? What made you want to study it?

I had a bit of an interest in blood clotting in undergrad, and I liked the coagulation pathway. The other things I liked were transfusion medicine, blood typing and transplants. But when I went into Honours I ended up going down the coagulation pathway and so that’s how I followed on with the PhD, in a similar area.

What was your undergraduate degree?

It was an Applied Science degree, so it had a lot of practical placements and work in the lab, it was very diagnostic and medical based which I liked.

What have you enjoyed most about doing a PhD?

I think the project management, I like being in charge of my own learning and time. You get out of it what you give. I think I’ve grown a lot, not just in knowledge and how to do things, but in time management and communicating. The people are great, so that’s been enjoyable.

Would you like to stay in research?

I think in some capacity, yes. In the short term, definitely and in the longer term, I’m interested in policy and strategy and those sorts of areas. I’d like to work in places that allow me to have exposure to other parts of the industry.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Even though I’ve been here two years, I’ve barely scratched the surface of Melbourne, so a lot of what I do in my spare time is exploring the city and surrounds.

What is your favourite place in the world?

The Sunshine Coast, I never appreciated it when I was there - but then you come down here and don’t have a beach!

L-R: Erica Kim and Shauna French at the
2015 CCS postgraduate symposium, trying
to get a "No-Bell" contestant technical.
Has participating in the symposium helped with your presentation and communication skills?

Definitely. Doing things like the symposium, they’re always to a different audience, you’ve got to know what to say to the kind of audience you have. It’s very valuable.

What advice do you have for others considering or just starting a PhD?

Make sure you have a good rapport with your supervisors very early on. I think the most important thing is the team and the environment you put yourself into. 

Try and approach the whole thing from a project and time management perspective. Try to be really focused with what you do.

Get involved in your department, in your school because it opens a lot of opportunities and you meet a lot of people and I think that’s a good thing to do when you’re just starting out.

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