Meet the recipients of our clinical and science fellowships for 2022 - News & Updates • Breast Cancer Foundation NZ

Meet the recipients of our clinical and science fellowships for 2022

Meet the recipients of our clinical and science fellowships for 2022

One of the many ways we fund breast cancer research is through the awarding of fellowships. Our fellowships provide the opportunity for an early-career scientist or doctor to advance their research while also advancing BCFNZ’s long-term vision of “Zero deaths from breast cancer” by pushing for new frontiers in early detection, treatment, and support.

For 2022 we have awarded two fellowships – the Belinda Scott Clinical Fellowship and the Ronald Kay Science Fellowship. Read more about the researchers we are funding, and their projects, below.

Dr Lauren Brown, characterisation of breast cancer in premenopausal women.

Dr Lauren Brown completed her medical training at Otago University in 2012 and is a PhD candidate at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, Australia. Her research focuses on breast cancer in younger women, who generally have poorer outcomes than older women. Some reasons for this include the fact that fewer younger women take part in clinical studies of new treatments, and there is less data on how useful the genetic tests that help physicians to decide on the best courses of treatment are in younger women. Dr Brown is looking at data from the SOFT (Suppression of Ovarian Function Trial) clinical trial, the largest genetic dataset of pre-menopausal women with breast cancer to date.

Dr Brown’s research aims to see if the standard genetic tests are equally effective in younger women as in older women, see if there are any differences in tumour gene expression in younger women, and consider what the best prognostic tests for younger women are. This research could change the way we think about young women’s breast cancer.

Dr Hamish McMillan, identifying transcription factors in metastatic breast cancer.

Dr Hamish McMillan completed a PhD in biochemistry at Otago University in 2021, and will be commencing post-doctoral studies at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute at Cambridge University this year. His research aims to improve the treatment of metastatic breast cancer by understanding what factors drive metasteses. In particular, he’ll be focusing on FOXA1, which is a transcription factor – a protein that is inolved in “reading” DNA and controlling which genes are expressed. This could be regulating which cells metastise and which don’t, so Dr McMillan will be looking at differences in FOXA1 activity between primary and metastatic tumours in mice.

This could have huge implications for the way metastatic breast cancer is treated, similar to how discovering the role of estrogen receptors has allowed us to treat ER-positive breast cancers.

If you or someone you know might be eligible for one of our fellowships, you can read more about them here.