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Dr Theresa Pankhurst’s journey through scientific research has taken interesting turns as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. After leaving St Andrew’s, she studied Biomedical Science at Victoria University of Wellington, followed by a Master of Clinical Immunology. In 2021 she graduated with a PhD in Biomedical Science, researching adjuvants – a vaccine additive that makes vaccines more effective, that could be added to vaccines delivered via the nose as a nasal spray.
In 2020, she joined the Vaccine Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (VAANZ) Ohu Kaupare Huaketo at the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research (MIMR) to work with other leading scientists on New Zealand’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at MIMR, she is now investigating next generation CO VID -19 vaccines that aim to strengthen Aotearoa’s preparedness for the ongoing and future pandemics. She is also organising an overseas Postdoctoral secondment for 2023, with opportunities available for her to work in the UK and USA.
Throughout Theresa’s scientific journey she has kept in touch with two of her St Andrew’s Science teachers, Brent Cummack and Kate Shelton. “They uncovered and cultivated my passion for science, and I will always be grateful for their role in kick-starting my scientific career.”