July 3, 2018  Print

A student from the Westmead Institute has received first place for her poster presentation at the 15th International Symposium on Dendritic Cells in Germany.

Hafsa Rana, a second year PhD student, presented her work on the role of dendritic cells in HIV infections.

In her Masters degree, Hafsa identified that certain dendritic cells in the skin become more easily infected than other cells. These infected cells then spread the virus without detection.

Hafsa with her award

As Hafsa had never been to an international conference before, she was both surprised and delighted to have her work recognised. 

“I’ve never been to an international conference before, so I was quite surprised that, out of everyone who presented, I received first place,” Hafsa said. 

“It was really good to win. It’s given me a boost of confidence in the work we’re doing, and how we’re performing in the field of immunology.”

Hafsa is now researching the relationship between HIV and herpes simplex virus (HSV). People with HSV are at a higher risk of HIV infections, as HSV increases the ability of cells to become infected. By understanding the specific cells that are more susceptible to infection, Hafsa hopes her research could eventually help prevent the transmission of HIV.

“Both my Masters and PhD are about preventing initial HIV infections. We’re working to understand how cells become infected in the first place, and what we can do to stop this process from happening,” she said.

“It’s great to have won at the Symposium and to know that our research path is worth it, and could make a difference in HIV research.” 

Congratulations to Hafsa on her achievement. Well done!

Hafsa Rana is a PhD student of the University of Sydney. She is supervised by Professor Tony Cunningham and Associate Professor Andrew Harman.