Dr Hansen Kosasih has always been motivated to help people. The Bridge Program helped him to realise the commercial potential of his work and how commercialisation could extend his impact even further. And his winning idea scored him a $10,000 travel scholarship along the way.
Dr Kosasih decided what he wanted to study when his mother was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. He completed his PhD with the Arthritis Research Group at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s (MCRI), investigating the mode of action of the main enzyme involved in cartilage degradation called ADAMTS-5.
While he felt like he contributed to the arthritis field with his research, he decided to make a switch to oncology because he saw opportunities to have a more direct impact on the clinic with his research.
“Being based in the Royal Children’s Hospital, I often see children smiling and running around being care free when I arrive at work. Most of them are probably there because they are sick or undergoing treatments. So in a way, I am constantly reminded of how privileged I am to be where I am, which makes me want to always contribute through my research and help these children in a small way I know how” he said.
One of Dr Kosasih’s current research projects is to identify novel chromosomal rearrangements using bioinformatics pipeline, which were missed previously by conventional diagnostic techniques in the clinic. His findings often assist the clinicians in deciding the best course of treatments for these patients, which motivates him to continue seeking outcomes in this area. He is also investigating new combination therapies for high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukaemia that he hopes can be used in the clinic.
Dr Kosasih came across the Bridge Program through MCRI’s business development team. “I was not aware of the commercial potential of my research. But through the program I realised that it might be possible for the basic research that I did to have a more translational impact,” he said.
During his time in the program, Dr Kosasih was also selected as a winner of the 2020 Bridge Program pitch competition, receiving a $10,000 travel scholarship to tour the US pharmaceutical companies and program consortium partners. Previous tours have included visits to the headquarters of AbbVie, Amgen, Merck and Novartis.
For the competition, participants submit a two-minute video pitching a real or fictional technology that has commercial opportunity. Dr Kosasih’s fictional osteoarthritis drug pitch was based on his PhD research work with the Arthritis Research Group.
“The pitch competition was a fun exercise to assess what I had learned from the program. I also had the pleasure of working with people from other research professions, including business development, during the group assignment. This was a great way to view a research asset from their perspectives and to also grow my industry network,” he said.
Dr Kosasih said during this era of personalised medicine it was more crucial than ever for researchers to be aware of their translational research potential and how to deliver it from bench to bedside.
“The travel scholarship will be very valuable to me as it will help me better understand the inner workings of these major pharmaceutical companies.
“It will help me identify projects in our research group and collaboration network that are potentially suitable for research commercialisation. I also hope to establish key connections with these companies that might support my current research in childhood leukaemia.”
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Content for this article was contributed by the Bridge Program and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s (MCRI) media teams. For media enquiries, email: