NCARD Relay For Life team
Not content with sitting in the laboratory DOING cancer research, NCARD fielded a team of walkers (and runners!) for the Relay for Life held on the Oak Lawn at the UWA campus over the weekend of 10 & 11 October. A fundraiser for the Cancer Council of WA – which, like many other charities and not for profits – was hit hard by the cancellation of regular and important fundraising activities through 2020, the Relay for Life at the UWA campus attracts many huge, fit and highly competitive teams from university residential colleges. Each team must have at least one member moving around the track for a full 24 hour period. The NCARD team, including PhD and Honours students, post-docs, research assistants and our Director, Anna Nowak (who , as a Board member for the Cancer Council also spoke at the event’s closing ceremony) was particularly pleased to be, not just the only laboratory participating, but one of the top five fundraising teams, smashing the group’s fundraising goal. The UWA event itself raised a very impressive total of $125,000. A pre-event lab coat decorating workshop also meant that NCARD carried off the coveted best dressed award, no mean feat when competing with a large dragon!
CCWA Research Awards Lunch
It is a matter of some pride that NCARD is regularly represented at the Cancer Council of Western Australia’s annual Research Awards Lunch, this year held on Thursday 26 November. A feature of the event is that researchers and supporters are seated together, and learn each others’ stories.
Our PhD student, Nicola Principe, attended, as she is the recipient of a PhD Top Up Scholarship. Her research is entitled tracking dynamic changes of the immune system after chemotherapy and immunotherapy to identify markers that predict cancer patient outcomes.
One of the supporters with whom Nicola was seated works is a postie, who regularly raises funds for the Cancer Council. She was impressed to learn about what he does and how successful at fundraising, and we are very proud of Nicola.
CCWA Vacation Scholar
We are very happy to welcome Pristina Goh to NCARD for a Cancer Council Scholarship over December the last weeks of 2020 and the first weeks of 2021. Pristina answered a few quick questions:
“This is a scholarship that helps students to develop cancer research skills and experience. I am working with Dr Scott Fisher; I had to complete an application document with him and submit it to Cancer Council WA. My project is the confirmation of asbestos related disease in an asbestos induced mesothelioma mouse model and I’ve already learned how to characterise asbestos related disease through histology. I have been surprised that I have been able to use prior learning experiences to contribute to cancer research. Next year I will be commencing the Doctor of Medicine course (MD2) at UWA.”
And Scott added:
One of our main research questions is: Why do some people develop mesothelioma, but others don’t, despite experiencing the same level of asbestos exposure?
We have developed a unique mouse model that will allow us to investigate how an individual’s genetic makeup affects whether they develop asbestos related disease after being exposed to asbestos. As part of this study we need to be absolutely sure that we only include individuals – in this case, mice- that develop disease. Sometimes disease is obvious and we can see tumours when the mice are dissected. However, often disease can only be confirmed by looking at samples under the microscope; this is called histology. Pristina’s role is to not only confirm disease histologically, but also characterise the changes observed in asbestos exposed mice compared to normal tissue. We will use this information to build a better picture of how host genetics affects disease susceptibility and development. The CCWA vacation scholarship provides the opportunity for Pristina to gain valuable, real world scientific research experience prior to starting her medical degree and will hopefully encourage her to continue her research interest alongside her clinical training.