Bright young mind in drug discovery bound for nation’s capital

A new, national fellowship scheme has put one of Griffith University’s brightest young minds in drug discovery on the road to Canberra.

Early career researcher Dr Roisin McMahon from the Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery (GRIDD) is among the nine fellows to have been awarded a fellowship by the Federal Government that will see her relocate to the nation’s capital for the one-year project.

The aim of the Australian Science Policy Fellowship Pilot Program, which will be operated under the auspices of the Office of the Chief Scientist, aims to grow the diversity of expertise in theAustralian Public Service workforce by providing a pathway for mid-career scientists tobecome skilled policy practitioners.

It also aims to strengthen the pipeline between science and policymaking, which is an area of keen interest to Dr McMahon.

“I’m really excited. It’s a great opportunity to learn about how we bridge the divide between scientists and policy makers,” she said.

“Having policy makers that have scientific training, skills in critical thinking, and the ability to evaluate evidence, and who can use those skills to inform policy makes for better policy.

“And having scientists who understand the reality of making good policy and influencing decisions and who can bring tangible solutions to government that could become reality, means that they’re better equipped to translate some of the research into outcomes that can have real impact.”

Since joining Griffith in early 2017 where she works in the lab of GRIDD Director Professor Jenny Martin AC, Dr McMahon has been hard at work in her field of passion – investigating new antimicrobial drug targets and identifying chemicals to block their activity.

Dr McMahon’s research seeks to disrupt the ability of bacteria to assemble the weapons that they need to cause disease, and she hopes to apply the knowledge and skills she acquires in Canberra to her future work in the lab.

“Being more engaged in science communication than previously has given me a taste of how important it is to share your research with a broader audience and maximise the impact that it can have by translating it beyond just the lab bench,” she said.

“Research for knowledge sake is very important, but it’s a great opportunity to take this new information back to the lab and see how I can apply it to my own research.”