Gene translocations, immunotherapy approaches and reducing cancer drug resistance were among the topics presented by our PhD students during UNSW Paediatric Research Week.

The students, shown above with mentors at a student retreat this year, are doing PhDs through the UNSW School of Women’s and Children’s Health. They gave updates on their childhood cancer research at a three-day research symposium this week, an annual event that helps the next generation of medical researchers hone their research and communication skills.

The students, supervised by senior scientists and academics from Children’s Cancer Institute and UNSW, spoke about how their research is unfolding and what it could mean for improving childhood cancer treatment. They shared their plans and progress with around 100 researchers from the Institute and UNSW.

The presentations revealed a sweep of research topics:

  • Of the 22+ childhood cancers researched at the Institute, PhD projects included research into neuroblastoma, high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, medulloblastoma and inflammatory myofibroblastic tumours.
  • Molecules being studied included polyamines, metal oxides, transport proteins, transcription enhancers, nanoparticles, small interfering RNA (siRNA), and rearranged genes – all with relevance to specific cancer types and cell processes
  • Projects ranged from basic tumour biology (such as understanding how transporter proteins eject chemotherapy drugs from cancer cells) to research closer to clinical application (such as increasing cancer cells’ sensitivity to chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy) to psychosocial research into long-term issues for childhood cancer patients and survivors (such as how often options for preserving fertility were discussed with patients and their families)
  • The students ranged from newbies who’d started PhDs three months ago to those whose research is almost done with three years’ worth of data to present and discuss.

Despite the usual public-speaking nerves, our presenters did a great job – explaining their work, answering questions and responding to feedback. They were obviously proud of their research and are clearly enjoying being part of the paediatric research community. We wish them all the best!

Read about opportunities to study with us.



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