Amplify: 1 - 9 June 2017


Pearl Lee

‘Building Skin: An elastic approach to ageing and tissue regeneration’

Research summary:

Elastin is a protein responsible for the elasticity in our skin, arteries and lungs, lost naturally as part of the ageing process. So far, elastin has been largely overlooked for use in tissue regeneration, with synthetic skin substitutes currently used to treat severe wounds, burns and damaged skin. Incorporating elastin into these substitutes would significantly improve healing outcomes.  Pearl's research aims to understand ways that elastin influences cells in the skin, as well as other tissues in our bodies, such as arteries and lungs. Learning how this protein interacts with cells (specifically, a building block of elastin called tropoelastin) could help to develop not only more efficient, healing and effective synthetic skin substitutes, it would also prevent strokes and cardiovascular disease (and ageing skin!).


Pearl Lee is currently a PhD student at the University of Sydney. Her research is on tropoelastin, a proteinesponsible for the elasticity in tissues such as skin and arteries. She has won a myriad of awards during her candidature, including competitive, university-wide international travel scholarships in order to collaborate with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States, and present her work in Europe, North and South America at conferences, to being recognized for her community work as a recipient of the Helen Beh citizenship award - an award that recognises the science student who has contributed most to the Faculty’s non academic activities and interests. More recently she won the Biology division of the international competition Dance your PhD 2015, a competition that encourages creative thinking to bridge the gap between sciences and art. She has since, been approached by Sydney University and the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences to direct a number of creative projects and invited by RN drive, ABC radio national to talk about how to communicate science to the masses. In addition to her academic and creative achievements, her various leadership roles at Sydney University have motivated her to want to make a difference to the world outside of University.