Dr Mariel Bartley, 2021–-22
Dr Mariel Bartley
Mariel is a molecular biologist who has spent the last seven years in New York, completing her PhD in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate Charles Rice at The Rockefeller University. During her time in America, Mariel also participated in the Hurford Science Diplomacy Initiative, to better learn how to apply her research skills for policy development. Mariel is interested in the study and control of infectious diseases, from the basic research level through to development of public health policy.
What were you researching before you started as a Science Policy Fellow?
I was working on human proteins involved in the innate immune response against viruses. My proteins of choice were a family of RNA modifying enzymes called ADARs, and I was developing an RNA-sequencing based assay to accurately measure the activity of each different family member.
Understanding the basic function of these proteins is important for both the role they play in the immune response, as well as the possible development of these proteins as drugs. Following the development of DNA-modifying drugs such as CRISPR-Cas9, the potential for RNA-modifying drugs - with shorter-term and more localised effects - are of huge interest at the moment.
How has your research background helped you contribute to policy development?
I am currently working in post-market reviews in the Therapeutic Goods Administration. My background in research has allowed me to quickly get across the scope of our reviews, to be involved in discussions and provide insight into the development of our reviews.
How has the program changed your career aspirations?
Through my years being involved in the Hurford Science Diplomacy Initiative, even during my PhD I was interested in moving towards a career in science policy, rather than post-doctoral research.
Through the Science Policy Fellowship, I have had the opportunity to be exposed to government and policymaking, and this has allowed me to test out and develop my skills in this field. The experience so far has been interesting and enjoyable, and confirmed that science policy is an area I want to continue with. It has also confirmed for me that policy requires people with all different backgrounds and skills, and that my background as a research scientist should allow me a space to contribute to future policy decisions.
What is your favourite part about working in a policy role in the Australian Public Service?
I love being directly involved in something that is helping Australian people, and getting to observe and experience how science and policy intersect in the TGA and Department of Health.