Our People
Dr Lachlan Harris

Tell us about what you do at QIMR Berghofer.

I work in the Sid Faithfull Brain Cancer Lab. I take ideas I’ve generated from my background as a neuroscientist and apply them to brain cancer research. My goal is to improve survival in the adult brain cancer, glioblastoma, where survival rates haven’t shifted in 30 years. There is a clear need for new ideas that challenge our thinking.

What inspired you to choose medical research as your career?

I am a discovery-based scientist by training, so I love finding out new things about the world. That was my first motivation. It’s fun. I now appreciate once you have generated new knowledge that it’s beholden on you to try to do some good with it, and that is what drives me now.

What do you hope to achieve?

I aim to improve survival and quality of life for people with brain cancer.

What is one of the most exciting projects you are working on right now?

I hope to address a largely misunderstood disease obstacle in adult brain cancer. Brain cancer cells can evade chemotherapy by entering hibernation. I aim to wake these cells up, at their most vulnerable point, to eradicate brain cancer.

What could be achieved in your field of research with additional funding support?

To cure brain cancer we must try bold and innovative ideas. Without funding, many of these ideas will remain untested. Maybe someone will re-discover these ideas 10-20 years down the track, but how many lives could have been saved if we acted now?

With more funding and research time we can accelerate discovery. Time is critical in glioblastoma where most people sadly pass away within 15-months of diagnosis. It’s exciting and terribly sad all at once, but someone in our lifetime could be the ‘last’ person to pass away from this terrible illness. Let’s make that day sooner rather than later.

What is one of your ‘big predictions’ for your field in the next 10 years?

I predict that brain cancer researchers are going to start recognising that they can’t keep trying the same approaches, which work for other cancers. This is happening, slowly, but it will accelerate.

Name two people, living or dead, you’d want to sit next to at a dinner party.

It’s tempting to try to be sophisticated and erudite here, but I’ll just say Tamler Sommers and David Pizarro, hosts of a very bad podcast series I enjoy.

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