For the year 2018/2019, the Walsh & Beck summer scholarship with the Otago Medical Research Foundation was awarded to University of Otago student, Sarah McQueen.
Sarah spent 10-weeks over the summer working on her project, focusing on the ‘regulation of the epithelial sodium channel in breast cancer cell lines by steroid hormones’. The final report from the project shows the results of Sarah’s studies and throws into light some exciting discoveries.
Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer related death in women throughout New Zealand. One of the reasons breast cancer is so deadly, is its ability to easily migrate to other areas of the body. Around 90% of women that have breast cancer will be beaten by the disease once it has spread from the breast, making research on how to prevent cancer cells from changing shape and moving, and to isolate the cancer to a single area, an integral part of fighting the disease.
Why is Sarah’s research so important?
The influence of steroid hormones on ENaC expression in breast cancer cells, is an area of research, which is a world first. With her unique and promising project application, Sarah was able to beat out over 120 students for the coveted Walsh & Beck scholarship.
Sarah’s report and work during the 10-week summer scholarship has already helped to uncover exciting developments that could be built upon with more research. Her theories and experiments looking into the influence of steroid hormones on ENaC expression in breast cancer cells, could eventually lead to further research to reduce the number of deaths related to breast cancer.
It’s only with research like Sarah’s that we can uncover the seeds of something that could grow into groundbreaking discoveries. If successful, this research could lay the foundations for further studies and a breakthrough in breast cancer treatment.
How are Walsh & Beck supporting Sarah and her research?
Walsh & Beck have previously worked with Otago Medical Research Foundation on various marketing projects. When we heard about the chance to donate and potentially sponsor a student to conduct essential research, we jumped at the chance.
Our donation to the OMRF helped to fund the Walsh & Beck scholarship, which was awarded to Sarah in 2018. Now that Sarah’s 10-week study has ended, we are continuing to support and keep track of her further research.
Sarah is now starting her PHD, in which she plans to further understand the influence of steroid hormones on ENaC expression in breast cancer cells and their migration. Her summer project has helped her set up the new protocols to explore this cell movement prevention, which is a great platform to begin the next stage of her project.
We have offered our skills and expertise to help bring more attention and recognition to the amazing work she is doing. We also want to encourage other businesses within Dunedin and Otago, to support the Otago Medical Research Foundation and the innovative work these students are doing.
Without donations and continued support, life changing research can’t be conducted and breakthroughs that could benefit not just New Zealand citizens, but people around the world, may never happen.
To find out how you could donate to the OMRF and research like Sarah’s, head to http://www.omrf.org.nz/support-us/donate/