Home' Australasian BioTechnology : Vol 26 No 3 Contents Australasian BioTechnology | Volume 26 | Number 3
at AusBiotech’s International BioFest
Steve Jasper is a PhD candidate who is halfway
through his degree, studying the effects of
time zone differences on performance, and
using the Australian biotech sector as the
setting for the research.
Jasper has a background in biotechnology, and was
working in a phase III clinical trial for an anti-retroviral when
he got the call to go to South America for three days.
‘When I tell that story to people outside the industry,
I get lots of puzzled looks—no-one goes to South
America for three days, right? But when I tell that story
to people inside the biotech sector, I get nods of
understanding,’ says Jasper.
Having originally trained as a pharmacist at the
University of Sydney, Jasper then moved into clinical
research in the pharmaceutical industry, working on
a diverse range of products, including Viagra. This
has given him a real passion for commercialising
biotechnology, seeing a product go through all of the
development stages (and many hurdles) until it finally
hits the market. Phase III trials are typically global, which
for Jasper has meant frequent teleconferences at 2 am,
and many short trips overseas.
Being able to explain your work is important, and
Jasper made the university final of the Three Minute
Thesis contest, which involves explaining your thesis
in three minutes or less. He called his entry ‘Game of
Zones’ (yes, he’s a Game of Thrones addict in what little
spare time he has).
‘The biotech sector asks a lot from its employees,
especially in terms of travel; and with a bit of
knowledge, we can do a lot more to support those who
travel frequently, and we have a duty of care to do so,’
After his PhD, Jasper intends to return to the biotech
sector. In the meantime, he’s compiled a short list of
tips for coping with international travel.
Top five tips for beating jet lag
5. Owl or fowl? Do you get out of bed with a spring
in your step, or are you unable to communicate
until those first drops of sweet, sweet caffeine hit
your system? If you’re a morning person (a ‘fowl’),
your response to jet lag will be quite different
from those of an evening person (an ‘owl’). This
is referred to as your
means that you can
tailor your jet-lag
your flight plans—
according to your
4. East or west? In
summary, most of us fly
better west; owls definitely
fly better west, and some fowls fly better east
(Waterhouse et al. 2007). Pay attention to when you
are the most jet lagged; if you fly around the world,
it can make a real difference to your performance.
3. Caffeine is a double-edged sword. Used
judiciously, it can help you to stay awake, but
recent studies have shown that it extends the
circadian rhythm. This is really useful when you fly
west, but counterproductive when flying east. So,
if you’re flying westward—to Europe, or returning
from the United States—then by all means hit the
coffee pot. But if you’re flying eastward, it’s best to
minimise your caffeine intake during the flight, and
in the days after flight.
2. Alcohol—avoid at all costs! I don’t care if it’s
free in business class, alcohol impairs cognitive
function, which is one of the features of jet lag.
Alcohol is a triple whammy: it dehydrates you,
impairs cognitive function and potentially interacts
with any sleeping medication you take.
1. Sunshine: the simplest and most effective hack
for beating jet lag. There are special receptors
in the eye that are sensitive to sunlight, sending
a message to the suprachiasmatic nucleus that
regulates the circadian rhythm. Outdoor light is
more effective than indoor, so take regular short
walks outdoors to reset the body clock in a matter
of days. There are some devices now on the market
that imitate the effect of sunlight, and they can be
useful before you travel.
So, there you have it—a few handy tips that you can
consider before your next international flight. Hopefully
you’ll have safe, happy and jet lag–free travels!
GAME OF ZONES
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