When Dr Dan Carter joined Children’s Cancer Institute fresh from a PhD in 2011, he sheepishly says his track record was nothing special. Despite this, leaders of the Institute’s Molecular Carcinogenesis research program, Professor Glenn Marshall and Dr Belamy Cheung, saw his potential. They knew he could contribute to vital research toward finding a cure for childhood cancer and nurtured his progress, something he is very grateful for. That confidence was well-founded, with his success in 2015 identifying a critical molecular feedback loop and potential drug target in children’s cancer neuroblastoma.
Last year brought Dan project grants (from NHMRC and from Cancer Australia, the latter co-funded by The Kid’s Cancer Project) and a Cancer Institute NSW fellowship that build on his successful research.
“While grant funding brings huge potential to grow my career, the bigger point is I’m able to do my best to discover something new to contribute toward a cure for childhood cancer,” he said.
“I’m able to discover something new to contribute towards a cure for childhood cancer.”
Studying neuroblastoma’s genetic diversity
Dan’s research focusses on neuroblastoma, which claims the lives of more children under 5 than any other cancer. He uses an innovative technique called single cell sequencing to study individual neuroblastoma cells to explore their genetic diversity, identify what makes them cancerous and see how they resist treatment.
“The biggest problem in all cancers is that patients don’t respond or only respond temporarily to cancer drugs. If we knew why, we could come up with more effective, better tolerated therapies.”
Dan says the Institute is a great place for young researchers passionate about making discoveries that can eventually be translated into the clinic for kids like Violet.
“It’s an environment that inspires all of us to do the best work we can.
“Everyone in the Institute has that motivation to help children with cancer,” he said.
Making a difference for kids with cancer
At Children’s Cancer Institute, we’re committed to fostering the next generation of childhood cancer research leaders who will help us get closer to one day curing every child. Through providing state-of-the-art laboratory facilities, a supportive research environment and established research leaders as mentors, we are committed to building the pipeline of our emerging research talent and ensuring the continued research excellence of our Institute.
If you’re a researcher who, like Dan Carter, is passionate about making discoveries that can one day be translated into the clinic for kids like Violet, see how you can join us at the Institute. And if you’re an outstanding PhD candidate, we have some exciting projects currently on offer.