Catherine Cochrane

Catherine Cochrane

Degree

PhD student

Area of study

Developmental Biology and Cancer, Cell Signalling

Supervisors

Year of enrolment

2015

Why did you choose Hudson Institute and your research group?

In my final year of my BSc at the University of Auckland, I knew that I wanted to undertake an Honours research year before a PhD. Alongside this, the motivation to live and gain some overseas experience, not too far away from home, drove me to look at research projects in Australia.

The collaborative environment, as well as the research projects offered at Hudson Institute stood out to me the most, especially the ones offered in Centre for Cancer Research due to the vast range of projects available. After finding a project I was interested in, I emailed and skyped the project supervisor, accepted the Bachelor of Biomedical Science Honours offer at Monash University and moved to Melbourne the following year.

I chose my research group as the project completely matched my interests developed during undergraduate study. From further understanding what the lab as a whole does, and hearing how passionate my supervisor was in describing his research, my interest in joining the lab was cemented.

What is your research about and what do you hope to achieve?

My research aims to uncover the importance of the Hedgehog signalling pathway, a key developmental signalling pathway in medulloblastoma, the most prevalent paediatric brain tumour and in osteosarcoma, bone cancer that predominantly occurs in young adolescences.

In my PhD research I hope to make a significant contribution to understanding the Hedgehog signalling pathway in the areas of developmental biology and cancer, as well as gain experience in a large range of scientific techniques in the field of cancer research. I also hope to expand on my communication/presentation skills to effectively communicate my project to both scientific and non-scientific audiences.

What is it like being a student at Hudson Institute?

Even though Hudson Institute is based off-campus there is an amazing and tight knit student community. Students across all centres know and support one another, both professionally and outside of work. My lab group and centre have been very supportive and nurturing throughout my Honours and PhD and I’ve established life-long friendships with current and former lab members.

What opportunities have you had at Hudson Institute?

From moving to Melbourne and completing Honours at Hudson Institute, I have been fortunate enough to produce results that required more research and answers, which evolved into my current PhD project. Since starting my PhD I have written a first author invited review paper on Hedgehog signalling, presented my research, both oral and poster presentations, at various Melbourne and interstate-based conferences, where I have recently received a student travel grant to attend ComBio in Adelaide this year.

I also regularly present at Centre for Cancer Research based meetings to get presentation experience and feedback from lab members and have also participated in the exciting annual 3-Minute-Thesis competition each year of my PhD. Lastly, I have also had the opportunity to be student representative for my Centre and an Early Career Researcher student representative for the Hudson Institute Student Society.

How will your research help others?

Uncovering a deeper understanding of how the Hedgehog pathway signals in medulloblastoma and osteosarcoma has major implications for Hedgehog inhibitor therapies as treatment. Part of my research concerns two genes, which when deleted, lead to a sensitisation and increased activation of the Hedgehog pathway. From various in vitro and in vivo experiments conducted in my lab, these two genes have the potential to act as predictive biomarkers for successful response to Hedgehog inhibitor therapy in Hedgehog-driven cancers.