Q&A with Dr Mitchell Low

9 August 2023 

A Q&A with Dr Low on his career, new challenges ahead and some of the topics his team will work on in 2023 and beyond. Dr Mitchell Low is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Natural Products Research at NICM Health Research Institute. He joined the Institute in 2010 as a PhD candidate working in the area of analytical chemistry and pharmacology. His research focuses on analytical chemistry, pharmacology, product development and early-stage clinical trials.

What drew you to complementary and integrative medicine research?

I always enjoyed science and understanding how things worked. I was amazed when I started researching natural medicines at how many of them have merit behind them and if used correctly can enhance or rival modern therapies.

What do you love about research?

The constant flow of new ideas, challenges and knowledge. I enjoy researching new areas or applying my knowledge and skills to new problems. It keeps things fresh, and you get very good at seeing how things link together, which is a rewarding experience.

What brought you to NICM HRI?

My analytical chemistry lecturer, then Honours and PhD supervisor Dr Cheang Khoo. He was by far the most engaging lecturer and made what could be considered a dry subject interesting. His work ethic was focused on quality, realism, humility and he was student-centred. His pearls of wisdom and humour were always timely and welcome. NICM HRI shared many of these values that Dr Khoo embodies, and I found myself getting more involved in numerous NICM HRI projects.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently leading about a dozen industry focused research projects. At the moment my attention is on the two pharmacokinetics studies I am running on cannabis products. I am also enjoying the wild ride that a small fast paced product development project has offered. We are developing a novel medicine from Australian plants. The product has evolved rapidly over the last year thanks to a lot of time in the lab by my team and the CSIRO. We are looking forward to some positive phase II results soon.

What is your next project?

I am looking forward to making good use of the new GMP facility constructed at NICM HRI. The projects where we develop a product or improve a product are quite rewarding and I am looking forward to having capacity to do this quicker and more efficiently, at a rate in line with industry expectations.

What has been the most rewarding research project in your career so far?

The most tangible reward has come from my PhD project. At the time I was not sure if it was worth the effort, but it has allowed me to pursue my interests and equipped me to go on and be part of many innovative and collaborative projects with some amazing products and teams.

What has been the best career advice you’ve ever received?

“Do what you find easy, that other people find hard”. Thanks Dad!

What is your favourite aspect of your role?  

I enjoy drawing on knowledge and experience to develop research plans and executing them to solve problems. It’s rewarding when you do not have the knowledge or experience, so discovering a solution and growing as a scientist. Nothing beats finishing a project and knowing you could do it better next time, yet at the same time not feeling like you could have done it better.