PhD student, Aidan Kashyap has been selected as a FameLab semi-finalist for his research that is offering hope for babies who struggle to breathe at birth due to underdeveloped lungs.
Aidan will compete against 11 other STEM early career researchers in the FameLab Victorian semi-finals at the Melbourne Museum on Wednesday (28 March).
FameLab, presented by the British Council of Australia, is a science communication competition that invites the country’s brightest minds to the stage to explain in three minutes or less why their work matters to the world.
Aidan is currently undertaking his PhD in Professor Stuart Hooper’s laboratory where he is investigating new ways to treat the 1 in 3000 babies born with congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), a devastating condition affecting lung development in the womb.
“CDH occurs when, early in a baby’s development, a hole in the diaphragm allows the stomach to move into the chest, which prevents the lungs from growing properly,” Aidan explains.
While two-thirds of babies with CDH are diagnosed during a routine ultrasound scan at 20 weeks of pregnancy, they currently can’t be treated until they are born.
“We are investigating promising new therapies that could be used to treat these babies before they are even born, to better prepare their small lungs for life outside the womb,” Aidan says.
These therapies involve keyhole surgery while the baby is still in the womb, and a medication that promotes the normal growth of blood vessels in the lungs to improve survival.
Presentations will be judged according to FameLab’s 3Cs – content, clarity and charisma – by an esteemed panel of media professionals, and public figures.
The winner will be announced on the night and will then go on to compete in the national final, hosted by renowned astrophysicist, Dr Alan Duffy, at the University of Western Australia in Perth in May.