Wai Chin Chong
Area of study
Cancer biology, cell signalling, cellular differentiation, developmental biology
Year of enrolment
What is your research about and what do you hope to achieve?
My research aims to discover the mechanisms of Panobinostat-mediated differentiation in solid tumours. Impaired differentiation is a common feature of cancer. In contrast to chemotherapy or radiotherapy, the goal of differentiation therapy is to exhaust the malignant potential of tumour cells through the reactivation of developmental programs rather than cell death. Until now, we have shown that continuous, low-dose Panobinostat therapy induces terminal, multilineage differentiation in vivo in cancer cell model. Furthermore, recently published work and the preliminary data show in the cancer model that loss of SWI/SNF function demonstrates dramatic responses to low-dose Panobinostat treatment. In my PhD research, I hope to make a significant contribution to revealing the therapeutic-mediated differentiation in solid tumours, as well as gain experience in a large range of advanced scientific techniques in the field of cancer research.
What opportunities have you had at Hudson Institute?
I have been fortunate enough to join the Hudson Monash Paediatric Precision Medicine Program, a collaborative project funded by the Children’s Cancer Foundation. By collaborating and working with expert oncologists and researchers, I have been exposed to extensive information and advanced cancer research techniques, helping to train my creative thinking and working abilities and gain lab experience to help me accomplish my goals. I have also developed a network with brilliant minds for future collaboration in my career as a medical scientist. I also regularly present at the Centre for Cancer Research based meetings to get presentation experience and feedback from lab members and have also participated in the exciting annual 3 Three Minute Thesis competition. Lastly, I have also had the opportunity to be a secretary for the Hudson Institute Student Society. Collectively, these opportunities allowed me to train and develop my communication, social and critical thinking skills.
How will your research help others?
Cancer is a huge burden for every nation in the world. In 2018, the global cancer burden was estimated to be at least 14.1 million new cases and 8.2 million cancer deaths. The drugs and technologies available in developed countries are often beyond the reach of many millions of people globally. Moreover, a subset of patients continues to have poor responses to conventional therapy despite significant advances in the treatment of cancer over the last five decades. Using cancer models with epigenetically driven tumorigenesis that is highly susceptible to differentiation, I hope to uncover a deeper understanding of the underlying mechanisms of Panobinostat-mediated differentiation in solid tumours and bring major advances to cancer research. Lastly, it is my ambition to help create a world where cancer is no longer a death sentence.