18 March, 2009: Dr Vanessa Hayes, Group Leader Cancer Genetics at Children’s Cancer Institute Australia for Medical Research at the University of New South Wales in Sydney has won a 2009 Fulbright Professional Scholarship.
The scholarship will take her to the Centre for Comparative Genomics and Bioinformatics at Pennsylvania State University for four months to research the genetic factors that lead to the development of prostate cancer.
Vanessa will use Next Generation Sequencing technology to examine prostate cancer genomes (entire DNA sequence of building blocks), to map all the variations that may indicate if a person is susceptible to developing the disease.
“Next Generation Sequencing will greatly change the face of prostate cancer research, allowing for analysis of entire human and cancer DNA sequences, thus greatly advancing discovery of the genetic components impacting prostate cancer,” Vanessa said.
“According to the Australia Institute Health and Welfare, prostate cancer is on the increase in Australia. The study therefore has direct implications for the health burden of the country, which in turn directly impacts the Australian economy.”
Dr Hayes is also collaborating with Pennsylvania State University to generate a whole genome sequence of the Tasmanian Devil and its facial cancer. Her research is targeted at using the Tasmanian devil facial cancer as a unique model to understand human cancer development.
“My visit to Penn State University will benefit Australia by placing the nation internationally in the field of Next Generation Sequencing. In addition, it will build an alliance to help other researchers contribute to the global effort to understand cancer genomes.”
The expertise gained during her Fulbright Scholarship will also allow Vanessa to establish a unique state-of-the-art cancer genomics facility dedicated to both adult and childhood cancer research within the new Lowy Cancer Research Centre to be completed in late 2009, Randwick, Sydney.
Vanessa is a graduate of the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, with a BSc and a MSc and a PhD in Cancer Genetics from the University of Groningen, Netherlands.
She has published widely and been presented with numerous academic awards. She received the Ruth Stephens Gani Medal for Human Genetics, Australian Academy of Science (2008); The Australian Young Tall Poppy Award for Science (2007); The Premier’s Award for Outstanding Cancer Research Fellow (2007), and the BNP Paribas Award for Cancer Genetics (2006), and she has published 35 peer-reviewed publications since 1996.
source: Fullbright Commission
PR & Communications, Children’s Cancer Institute Australia
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