Why is everyone wearing jeans today?

WASHINGTON. August 4. KAZINFORM We're all fussing over denim even more than usual today, and it's no wonder.Today is the 20th anniversary of Jeans for Genes day, a fundraising initiative for the Children's Medical Research Institute (CMRI). The organisation conducts research into birth defects, cancer, epilepsy and genetic disorders that affect around one in 20 Australia children born each year.

The institute has been responsible for major developments in neonatal technology, microsurgery and vaccinations for children. They are currently in the midst of a major expansion and are applying for the second round of a grant to build an analysis centre to look into telomeres - the building blocks for cancerous cells and the source of ageing.
Here, CMRI director Professor Roger Reddell gives us a glimpse into a typical day on the job.

6am: breakfast and emails - "I eat breakfast each morning at my computer, and haven't spilt muesli or coffee on the keyboard yet. Lots of our work is done in collaboration with other researchers so we have a lot of emails overnight from North American counterparts. I pack lunch the evening before so I can get on the road quickly."

Professor Reddel originally worked as an oncologist before turning to research, and has worked at the institute for 25 years.

"I've always been interested in research. I originally trained as medical oncologist and I also had the opportunity to train as a cancer researcher in the lab, and by the end of that time I decided it was so exciting and the possibilities were so great for improvements that I've stayed in the lab ever since," he said.

6.30 - 8am: Commute and gym - "I aim to do at least five 30 minute exercise sessions each week at an intensity where I can only think of getting enough oxygen. It's the only time of day I'm not thinking about cancer research or the institute," he said.

8 - 8.30am: Administrative work - "In most businesses it's unusual for the CEO to also be a researcher, but in research it's quite common as the culture tends to be more effective when there is a researcher in charge. Although it does mean the person is doing two full time jobs."

The CMRI is funded through a combination of donations, investments and research grants. They work across four main areas including embryological development and birth defects, neuroscience, gene therapy and cancer research.
It's currently undergoing a major expansion, so Professor Reddel has weekly meetings with the head of operations and redevelopment director to see how the new building is progressing.

Checking out plans for the new building. Picture: Supplied.

9.30 - 12pm: Meet with CMRI research leader and work on grant application - "We are working on the second stage of a grant application to fund equipment for a telomere analysis centre," Professor Reddel said.

"Australian researchers are renowned for the work on telomeres in cancer and we want to build our capacity to help patients and families who may have inherited telomeres."

"Many researchers get frustrated with competing for grants, but I find the application process a great opportunity to think about the next round of research."

12-12.30pm: Have lunch - "I have lunch in the tea room of the institute most days and enjoy chatting with people from all over the institute."
12.30 - 2.30pm: Host seminar by Associate Professor Helen Rizos - "Researchers put a lot of work into keeping up with the progress of others. Helen is a frequent visitor here but this was my first time to host her as a speaker so everyone could hear about work she has been doing."

Professor Reddel said he loves the ability to discover new things in his job and is optimistic about the treatments for cancer patients in future. However he said it's difficult to put a time frame on the development for new drugs, with many taking around 10 to 15 years to go from the lab to the pharmacy.

"It's fair to say cancer has turned out to be far more complicated than anyone envisaged. But there is great progress in understanding and that's what we need to come up with effective treatments."

"There are potential exceptions, for example if some medicine had been [developed] but found to be ineffective and we happened to find it was useful for some form of cancer, that could have a very fast application in a clinic because testing had been done but that would be extremely fortunate."

Collaboration with other experts is a huge part of the research community. Picture: Supplied.

2.30 - 3pm: Weekly meeting - Catch up with head of marketing and communications and chief financial officer in the lead up to Jeans for Genes day, followed by meeting with management team. This is followed by a celebration with the team because the Jeans for Genes fundraising target has been exceeded.

4.30 - 4.45: Spend time in the cancer research unit - Professor Reddel said since moving to director his office has moved out of the lab, but he spends a lot of time seeing what is happening there and finding out details of experiments and projects first hand.

He said the research community is particularly collaborative, often working with scientists from all over the world to share their new developments.

"No one wants to reinvent the wheel we try to keep abreast of what eyervone else is doing in those particular areas, it's a tremendously collaborative endeavour. That's one of the really great things about being in research. No matter what field it really is one of the true international endeavours. People tend to cross national boundaries very easily," he said.

4.45 - 6.45pm: More work on the telomere research project proposal, followed by travelling home, dinner, cryptic cross word and reading the newspaper.

8.15 - 12pm: Work again on the telomere research project proposal

Source: www.news.com.au

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