PhD intern fast-tracks genetic testing technology

17 May 2021
Genetic testing

In collaboration with UNSW Sydney, an innovative start-up is to fast-track commercialisation of new genetic testing technology.

Australian Postgraduate Research Intern (APR.Intern) connects PhD students with industry through short-term internships. These opportunities empower students to thrive in a practical research environment and for businesses to innovate and be future-ready. The program also links businesses to fresh ideas and provides pathways for universities to expand research collaborations with industry.

The PhD internship project between medtech start-up, Genepath and UNSW was facilitated by APR.Intern and supported by MTPConnect’s REDI initiative. Tasked with helping Genepath fill a short-term skills gap, APR.Intern matched the team’s research needs with UNSW PhD student, Suhyun ‘Sue’ Kweon.

“Genetic testing technology has incredible potential for preventative health screening and innovative advancements are taking place right here in Australia,” said Dr Glenn Bennett, Founder and Chief Medical Officer of Genepath.

“We have developed a first-of-its-kind expanded carrier screening test for the Australian market and required biotechnology expertise to analyse its performance – Sue’s skillset was the perfect match. The project produced a high-quality, comprehensive evaluation of the test, which was then used in the regulatory approval process,” Bennett explained.

For Sue, the three-month internship was an opportunity to experience a practical research environment and develop new skills.

“I learnt how research is performed in the private sector and developed new skills in financial management, leadership, strategic planning, communication and collaboration,” 

Industry-university collaboration was always on the cards for Genepath, whose founders are research scientists with academic backgrounds.

“Central to our mission is mentoring early-stage researchers – to show them how research ideas can be made a reality in the private sector,”

The collaboration was a win-win for all; Sue now with invaluable experience in the commercialisation of a medtech product under her belt, and Genepath a step closer to bringing a transformative new carrier screening test to the Australian market.