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Neuroscience student thankful for scholarship boost

Tong Cui Jiang

Studying neuroscience has its challenges – as any discipline does.

For student Tong Cui Jiang, who also had to learn English to pursue her studies at the University’s Menzies Institute for Medical Research, the task has been even more difficult.

“It has been very hard for me because English is not my first language, but it is getting easier now,” she said.

However, the hard work certainly paid off for Ms Jiang, who received a major boost to her studies when she was recently announced as the first Dianne Eerden Elite Research Scholarship recipient.

The $290,000 scholarship introduced last year is supported by a generous bequest from the late Diane Eerden, who wanted to encourage female students to consider the field of neuroscience or neurosurgery.

“I was very surprised,” Ms Jiang said.

“It means so much to me.”

A third year International PhD student, Ms Jiang came from China two years ago to study at the Menzies Institute.

Her work focuses on the molecular and cellular mechanisms of neurodegenerative disease Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) - more commonly known as Motor Neuron Disease.

She hopes her work will make a difference to many people suffering from ALS in the future.

“During my study I want to understand why neurons degenerate in MND, to make a difference, to help people with the disease,” she said.

Ms Eerden, who was only 66 years-old when she passed away, was born and raised in Adelaide, South Australia.

In later years she sailed to Tasmania, to retire to the Huon Valley town of Cygnet.

In addition to her generous bequest, Ms Eerden also willed her body to the University’s bequest program for the study of the rare head and neck cancer she lost her life to.

Before she died Ms Eerden said;

“I want to encourage a young person who has their mind set on a future in medicine, neurological cancer and research or blood cancers,”

“In the big scheme of things it is but a drop, but let it fall where I wish and cause ever widening ripples.”

For information regarding making a gift in your Will to the University contact Gaye French, Advancement Coordinator for the University of Tasmania Foundation at:

Published on: 29 Mar 2017 4:11pm