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Tuesday April 23, 2024

Congratulations to Leslie Dominguez Cadena
2023 ASI Career Advancement Awardee - Postgraduate Category


We warmly congratulate
Leslie Dominguez Cadena
Recipient of a 2023 ASI Career Advancement Award - Postgraduate Category


As a recipient of an ASI Career Advancement Award in 2023, I want to express my deepest gratitude to the Australian and New Zealand Society for Immunology for their support of my education. I feel extremely fortunate and thankful to have been awarded with this honour.

My curiosity, passion for learning, and desire to use knowledge for the benefit of others have shaped my devotion to science and fueled my dream of becoming a biomedical scientist. My home country, Ecuador, lacks favorable conditions to support world-class biomedical research. This inspired me to pursue my studies at the University of Queensland. My undergraduate studies were enabled by a highly competitive Ecuadorian scholarship, obtained after scoring 1000/1000 points in the national academic exam for higher education admission (ranked 1st of 104,000 applicants). I successfully completed a Bachelor of Biomedical Science, and I completed my Honours Degree with a GPA of 7 (ranked first in cohort) and a publication as lead author (Cell Biology and Immunology, 2021 DOI: 10.1111/imcb.12503). My high academic achievements and aptitude for research enabled me to secure a UQ scholarship to undertake my PhD at the Frazer Institute, supported by various competitively awarded top-up and travel scholarships.

My PhD research under Professor Antje Blumenthal’s supervision employs in vitro model systems to define molecular mechanisms that initiate and regulate inflammation in response to infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis (TB). TB remains a leading cause of death by a single pathogen. Suboptimal diagnostic tools, the lack of an effective vaccine, and the rapid emergence of multi-drug resistant mycobacterial strains have made the diagnosis and treatment of TB a major clinical challenge. Improved TB vaccines and treatments are urgent global priorities.  My PhD work has unveiled significant new insights into the molecular mechanisms that regulate disease manifestation and pathogen control in TB. I envisage that this work will provide the basis for new avenues to explore opportunities for host-directed interventions to improve our ability to treat mycobacterial infections.

I am at a critical point in my career, as I am approaching the final stage of my PhD candidature. My current PhD scholarship living stipend ends in December 2023. Thus, I will use the ASI Postgraduate Career Advancement Award as a PhD completion funding. This will enable me to continue working on my thesis through January 2024 and support my stay in Australia, after thesis submission, to execute a set of key experiments required for the two first-authored publications arising from my PhD work. Meeting these goals will position me well for future competitive research funding schemes (e.g., ARC DECRA, NIH Training Fellowship) securing a post-doctoral position. This will enable me to continue gaining the required qualifications, and the professional and personal skills to one day be able to determine the direction of my own research to advance the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases.

Cloning in PC2 at the Frazer Institute

Author: Leslie Dominguez Cadena

Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ASI

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