The inaugural Dr Sue Fowler Scholarship in Ovarian Cancer has been awarded to PhD student, Mrs Nazanin Karimnia to support her research into new ovarian cancer therapies.
The scholarship was established in honour of the late Dr Sue Fowler, to support a Hudson Institute PhD student undertaking research into ovarian cancer.
There is an urgent need for new therapies to improve the long-term survival of ovarian cancer patients. Ovarian cancer is a disease with a five-year mortality rate of around 70 per cent. While most patients are initially responsive to chemotherapy, 90 per cent of patients relapse and develop drug-resistant disease.
Mrs Karimnia, a PhD candidate in the Ovarian Cancer Biomarker laboratory, is investigating how targeting a unique signature, or marker, could help to disrupt the cells that ‘lead’ tumour invasion into healthy tissue.
The marker, called Keratin14, is expressed by the cancer cells that control how ovarian tumours invade and then implant into healthy tissues. By disrupting this process Mrs Karimnia hopes to develop a new therapy to treat ovarian cancers, at all stages of progression.
“These cells are like the tip of the ‘invading arm’ in the ‘army’ of cancer cells,” Mrs Karimnia explains.
“By targeting these ‘leaders’ through the Keratin14 marker, we could potentially disrupt the initial invasion to healthy tissue and prevent the further spread and re-seeding of cancer cells.
“Our aim is to develop a novel, effective and non-toxic anti-cancer strategy that can stabilise or regress disease and enhance the effectiveness of existing ovarian cancer treatments.
“Women diagnosed at any stage of ovarian cancer will benefit from the outcome of this research.”
The goal of the scholarship is to assist outstanding students to start a career in ovarian cancer research and to improve treatment and diagnostic approaches for women with ovarian cancer.
Dr Sue Fowler was a dedicated and caring medical practitioner and the Institute is grateful for the generous and foresighted support of her family in creating this important scholarship in her memory.