Somerset Times

Year 7 Science Snippets: What is Otorhinolaryngology?

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Somerset Times Edition

Week 1, Term Three, 2017

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Although Somerset College's Science Week is to be celebrated Week 2, Term Three; the Year 7 Scientists were fortunate to have two preliminary Science Week guest speakers in the last week of Term two. The following is an overview of these lectures.

On the last Thursday of Term 2, the entire Year 7 cohort was lucky enough to have Dr Brent McMonagle come in and chat to us. The experienced ENT – Ear, Nose, Throat surgeon gave a detailed talk about what he does and how it might interest us to partake in a future career (a branch of medical or surgical science) involving science. The presentation involved many colourful and informative PowerPoint slides that explained the importance of science and its many occupations. Dr McMonagle also discussed the range of medical situations that an ENT surgeon can experience. He showed us real life examples of conditions that he works around daily. We were astounded to find out that one of his longer surgeries can take up to 15 hours!

2017 - T3 - W1 - Year 7 Science 02

As part of the Griffith University Eskitis Institute of Drug Discovery team, Dr McMonagle has been involved in exciting research with current Queenslander and Australian of the Year Professor Emeritus Alan Mackay-Sim. Dr McMonagle is the Scientific Director of the Perry Cross Spinal Research Foundation which is abour to commence a project that involves taking olfactory cells (comes from the sense of smell) and using them to aid the paraplegic as well as patients with spinal cord injuries. The olfactory cells have an advanced regeneration process that allows new cells to redevelop with working bodily functions. The research team discovered that if these cells were placed into a spinal cord. The olfactory cells would reconnect and fuse with the spinal cord cells and on their own, would merge together and form a bond.

A clinical trial of this experiment was performed in 2002 and led to the statement that this method of spinal regeneration is safe on humans. With this information in mind, further studies were carried out by various scientists who discovered that a mix of olfactory ensheathing cells and fibroblasts together with a nerve bridge could let paralysed patients to regain some functions of the lower body.

This study led to two new questions; how could they make the transplant more effective? And what is needed to improve the process?

Dr McMonagle is currently working on solving these questions along with his team to create a brighter future for recovered spinal injury patients.

To conclude, the Year 7 cohort would like to thank Dr John Gerrard and Dr Brent McMonagle for taking time out of their busy schedules to come talk to us about these fascinating subjects. Thank you also to Mrs Clare Walker for organising the talk. We all very much enjoyed Dr Gerrard and Dr McMonagle talks and sharing their expert knowledge in their scientific fields.

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