Oncology Post Graduate Student Representative and Peer Supporter
Department of Oncology
Tell us a bit about your role
I am a DPhil student in the Department of Oncology, studying the role of the immune system in cancer development.
I have been fascinated with the biological sciences since I was young. My first exposure to scientific research was an internship in a synthetic biology laboratory in RIKEN, Japan. I did my undergraduate studies at Colby College, USA where I became interested in the field of cancer biology, and later, took a research assistant position at a medical oncology laboratory at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) in Boston. At DFCI, I had the opportunity to be at the centre of important translational cancer research and appreciated the impact the research at the bench can have on practices in the clinic.
With more certainty that research for clinical application was what I wanted to do, I came to the Department of Oncology at the University of Oxford where I began studying the impact of therapeutic interventions for lung cancer in my DPhil study.
Specifically, my research project looks at the role of the innate immune system in the development of lung cancer. We use a pre-clinical mouse model to understand the molecular mechanisms that are associated with the different outcomes from therapeutic interventions, including radiation and immunotherapy agents, at different phases of tumour development.
We hope that the study of immunological events in early stages of lung cancer development can contribute to a biological understanding in the process of cancer evolution.
What is the most meaningful aspect of your work?
Seeing the research translate into the clinical setting to help cancer patients is the most meaningful aspect of the work that we do. Currently, cancer is the second cause of death after cardiovascular diseases. We would like to see that our research in early cancer development could have future implications for strategies for cancer therapies, possibly in the area of cancer prevention.
Can you tell us about something you've done, contributed to that you're most proud of?
The potential that the research I have started here at Oxford has, and the implications it could have in the clinic in the further future, is what I am most excited about. Fortunately, an abstract that I have submitted on the topic has been recognised for an award at a national conference this year.
What changes would you most like to see in the Medical Sciences in the next 100 years?
I would like to see a co-advancement of, and greater integration between information technology and medicine. The optimal use of the right technologies could lead to greater developments in the field of personalized medicine, and potentially make things such as ‘real-time medicine’ (the shortening of time between diagnosis and treatment) a reality.
I would also like to see better communication between bench and bedside. In medical science research, I believe there is still a disconnect between work done in the laboratories and the patient experience, despite recent efforts. By reminding ourselves who we are doing the research for, we can better prioritize aims and directions of our research.