Monday, 12 December 2016

NHMRC scholarships will benefit research into prostate cancer and lupus

Dr Melissa Northcott
Two Monash Health doctors have received competitive National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) scholarships to undertake postgraduate research at Monash University.

Medical Oncology Fellow Dr Edmond Kwan and Rheumatology Registrar Dr Melissa Northcott will start their PhD programs at the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS) next year, with the support of the scholarships each valued at $125,000 over three years.

Currently a Medical Oncology Clinical Fellow at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Dr Kwan will commence at Monash Health and Monash University in February.

Dr Edmond Kwan
Dr Kwan hopes his research project will pave the way for the future development of new effective drug therapies to improve the outcomes of prostate cancer

“In men with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer, we have previously identified an association between treatment outcomes with the androgen receptor inhibitor enzalutamide and aberrations detectable in plasma cell-free DNA and whole-blood RNA,,” said Dr Kwan.

“Using serial blood samples, we aim to identify genomic and molecular changes linked to treatment outcomes on enzalutamide, and identify potential mechanisms and predictors of drug resistance.”

Dr Kwan said he is very excited about coming to the Monash Health Translation Precinct to undertake his PhD, and believes the MHTP will provide an amazing opportunity to produce high quality clinical translational research.

Dr Kwan’s PhD will be supervised by Associate Professor Arun Azad from the Department of Medicine at SCS and Consultant Medical Oncologist at Monash Health.

Under the supervision of Dr Sarah Jones and Head of SCS and Director of Rheumatology at Monash Health Professor Eric Morand, Dr Northcott will investigate the role of a protein named GILZ in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

“Lupus is an autoimmune condition which causes inflammation in many different organs and can lead to considerable suffering and even death in some patients, many of whom are young,” said Dr Northcott.

“Currently there is inadequate treatments for many patients with this condition and GILZ is thought to reduce inflammation and may be a future treatment target.”

Dr Northcott thanks Professor Eric Morand and Dr Sarah Jones for their help with her NHMRC application while Dr Kwan is grateful for the significant support of Associate Professor Azad.

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