Tell us about what you do at QIMR Berghofer.
I work in the Medical Genomics Lab as a bioinformatician, in other words I use powerful computers to analyse complex biological data. My main research focus is the genomics of women’s cancers, particularly characterising the changes that happen to the DNA of cancer cells. I hope to guide precision medicine by identifying why certain cancers respond to treatment and others don’t.
What inspired you to choose medical research as your career?
I’ve always been interested in research because I enjoy learning and figuring out the truth. Even if I could help one woman with cancer on their cancer journey, it would make my research efforts worthwhile.
What do you hope to achieve?
Translating the wealth of knowledge in the research space into clinical practice. I also strive for equality in terms of cancer management access, so, for example people in rural areas to have the same access to evidence-driven practice.
What is one of the most exciting projects you are working on right now?
Our new collaboration with Foundation Medicine is really exciting. Foundation Medicine is a world-leading company that provides molecular insights into cancer. Together, we are improving our knowledge on BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic variants by analysing over 500,000 cancer samples. The outcomes from this study will likely have a positive effect on women with familial breast and ovarian cancers.
What could be achieved in your field of research with additional funding support?
We have access to unique samples from multiple Australian-led clinical trials for breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer. Additional funds would allow us to interrogate the cancer samples using the latest genomic technologies to link cancer features with treatment responses. This work is critical for enabling patient-centred medicine.
What could be achieved in your field of research with additional research time?
We are currently so focused on the initial cancer treatment responses, but unfortunately a large percentage of women eventually succumb to their disease. So additional research time would allow longer follow-up studies to see how cancer changes over time.
What is one of your ‘big predictions’ for your field in the next 10 years?
More nanotechnology being used for targeted cancer drug delivery.
What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?
Hanging out with my dog at the beach, playing tennis (terribly), and DIYing (house renos).
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