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Fellowship honours Canberra mum, continues cancer research

Friday, 17 March 2017

Source: University of Canberra

Two early career researchers at the University of Canberra have been awarded fellowships to support their ground-breaking work in cancer research.

Robert McCuaig and Tara Boulding were last night awarded the inaugural Melanie Swan Cancer Research Fellowship. The fellowship was created to honour Ms Swan, who lost her battle with breast cancer late last year.

Mr McCuaig and Ms Boulding are part of a University of Canberra research team led by Professor Sudha Rao, who specialises in molecular and cellular biology. The group is developing new treatments to stop the recurrence of breast and other aggressive cancers as well as innovative therapies to improve cancer patients’ quality of life.

Mr McCuaig uses high-resolution three-dimensional imaging technology to visualise and provide vital information on cancer cells. His work offers insight into the effectiveness of a treatment approach.

The PhD candidate, who completed his undergraduate degree in applied science at the University, said he was honoured to receive the fellowship.

“This award means a great deal to me as the continuation of Melanie Swan’s legacy. She greatly helped the work carried out by our lab and was an inspiration to me personally,” Mr McCuaig said.

“Melanie inspires me to work as hard as possible in the fight against metastatic breast cancer. I respect and admire her strength and dedication – she never gave up.”

Ms Boulding’s research is focused on understanding proteins that promote breast cancer stem cells and the formation of tumours.

Ms Boulding, who studied a Bachelor of Science (Honours) under Professor Rao, said the fellowship will help her enhance her skills as a scientist and is an important step toward building a successful career.

“I will be able to increase my contribution towards our breast cancer work and hopefully it will bring us closer to identifying targets that we can use in a clinical setting,” Ms Boulding said.

The fellowships were presented last night at a movie fundraiser held at Dendy. The event has so far raised $15,000, with all proceeds going to the University’s Cancer Research Fund.

University of Canberra Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) Professor Frances Shannon said Ms Swan’s work helped raise vital funds for the University’s cancer research efforts.

“Since Melanie arranged the first movie night in 2015, over $100,000 has been donated to support Professor Rao and her team, most of which can be tracked back to Melanie,” Professor Shannon said.

“She started us on a path that has had an immense impact on our research and we are determined to continue her wonderful work and honour her legacy.”

The fellowship includes travel funding to facilitate collaboration with other cancer research laboratories, and to increase awareness of the University’s cancer research activity across the research and clinical communities.

 

Contact the University of Canberra media team:

Amanda Jones 0409 140 415

Claudia Doman: 0408 826 362