Dijana Miljkovic has made an exciting discovery through her PhD at the Basil Hetzel Institute for Translational Health Research (BHI).

Working in the Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) research group, Dijana has been investigating the immune cells of patients living with Chronic Rhinosinusitis (CRS), a disease affecting one in five Australians.

“I was always interested in science and biology. After completing a Bachelor of Medical Pharmaceutical Biotechnology I became a research assistant in the ENT group here and then I decided to take my research further by completing a PhD,” Dijana said.

“Having interaction with patients with CRS, I saw how bad their disease was and how much it was having a negative impact on their quality of life. I then wondered if these patients had differences in their immune cells compared to healthy patients who don’t have the disease, so this formed the topic of my PhD.

“I’ve been lucky to make a really exciting discovery through this research, finding a specific immune cell that appears to be more prevalent in patients with severe CRS compared to patients who don’t have the disease at all.”

With this world first discovery under her belt, Dijana is now attempting to investigate what this cell does, hopeful it will lead to better treatment options in the future.

“It’s been really exciting making this finding and now we are continuing to gather patient tissue donations and start to look closely at this cell, working out what it does so we can understand it more,” she said.

“It’s so great to have so many patients from The Queen Elizabeth Hospital willing to donate their tissue when having surgery to go towards research. ”

Dijana is very thankful for the world-class facilities at the BHI, made a reality thanks to the generosity of The Hospital Research Foundation community.

“The BHI is great, it has modern facilities and it’s fantastic to be able to work alongside so many other types of research groups,” she said.

“Working with Professor Peter-John Wormald is also amazing. He is at the forefront of research and ENT surgery and really leads by example – it’s great to have someone like him in Adelaide.”

Upon completion of her PhD early in 2017, Dijana is looking to continue work in this area, ensuring her research has the best chance at getting to the stage where it can help everyday people.

“I’d love to continue my work through to the clinical trial stage, where we can use my findings to develop a treatment that really helps to alleviate all the trouble CRS causes so many people.”


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