News / 5 February 2016

Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute, 5 February 2016

Hakan Tarakci, Joachim Berger and SIlke Berger from Currie Group

For many PhD students, writing a science review is like a rite of passage into the scientific community. This was no different for Hakan Tarakci, a fresh ARMI PhD student in Prof. Peter Currie’s Lab, under the supervision of Dr. Joe Berger.

With Hakan’s scientific curiosity piqued, starting a PhD was almost a definite.

“Science has always intrigued me, especially after the first time I went to Scienceworks as a kid. What I find most interesting and exciting about doing research is that what you do in the lab and the results that you find gives you the opportunity to discover something that no-one else in the world has ever done before.”

Hakan’s PhD project utilizes zebrafish models of disease to understand how muscle disorders progress and develop to ultimately gain novel insight into how sarcomeres (the building blocks of muscle) assemble during development.

“Skeletal muscle makes up about 40% of your body-weight. Due to its important role, diseases of skeletal muscle can be debilitating for patients. Studying muscle development in zebrafish is fascinating due to the techniques and methods available. To be able to visualize the development of a transparent, live embryo under a microscope is incredible. Especially, the fact that it develops so fast...the heart is already beating by 24 hours!!”

Hakan’s scientific review highlights the importance of the sarcoglycan complex in skeletal muscle. The sarcoglycan complex acts to mechanically stabilise the cell membrane during muscle contractions. Mutations in the sarcoglycans result in limb girdle muscular dystrophy and several animal models have been generated to study the mechanism of disease.

As for a few parting words from Hakan before he goes back to his lab bench to pipette,

“I'm really enjoying my time as a PhD student and would highly recommend it to anyone who has a passion for research, is hungry for knowledge and loves a challenge. It is very demanding, but at the same time rewarding to see what you can achieve” said Hakan.

Hakan’s review is entitled “The sarcoglycan complex in skeletal muscle” (Jan 2016) and was published in Frontiers in Bioscience.