Describe your research in a few lines: My research is focused on identifying novel therapeutics to treat sarcomas that arise in DICER1 syndrome patients. DICER1 syndrome is a rare cancer disorder which predisposes affected individuals to developing a variety of tumour types, such as sarcomas. The syndrome primarily affects children and young adults, and is caused by mutations in the DICER1 gene.
How does your research help cancer patients, and who does it help? Sarcomas are a primary cause of morbidity and mortality in DICER1 syndrome patients. Currently, treatment options for these cancers are limited to surgery and chemotherapy, the latter of which is particularly unideal for young patients due to long-term side effects (e.g. infertility). Using functional genomics, I will identify new drug targets for DICER1-associated sarcomas that will specifically kill cancer cells and therefore be safer and more effective than currently-available therapeutics.
How has the studentship made a difference in your life? I am humbled and honoured to be a recipient of the Donner Foundation Studentship. This award has given me the opportunity to focus my efforts on my research and strengthened my confidence as a young researcher. The award has helped inspire me to become active in science outreach programs aimed at educating the public about cancer as well as mentorship programs to help train the next generation of cancer researchers. Most importantly, the award has enabled me to shed light on a rare disease, which too often are underfunded and overlooked. I look forward to continuing my graduate studies and improving care for patients!