Early career researchers get a boost from skin cancer centre

Four research projects from The University of Queensland and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute have been awarded funding through a new scheme aimed at supporting early career researchers in the skin and skin cancer fields.

The Australian Skin and Skin Cancer Research Centre (ASSC) Early Career Researcher grants were announced at the annual Alan Cooper Epiderm Lecture last Friday night (9 August).

UQ researcher Professor Kiarash Khosrotehrani said the funding would help promote talented researchers in the first 10 years of their career.

“It is often hard for early career researchers to gain access to funding,” Professor Khosrotehrani said.

“This scheme provides experience in preparing a grant application for peer review, and also adds to the track record for future grant applications.  

“A major aim of ASSC is to advance researcher capacity in the skin and skin cancer field – awards, networking, mentoring are just some of the ways we do that.”

UQ researcher Dr Aideen McInerney-Leo was awarded for her project looking into new genes in families with inherited melanoma.

“I am incredibly honoured and grateful to have been awarded the ASSC ECR grant towards my research,” Dr McInerney-Leo said.

“I study families with a strong history of melanoma, of whom only a third carry mutations in previously identified genes.

“The ASSC grant will allow me to use next-generation sequencing on mutation negative families to identify new genes.

“This information will be used to offer genetic testing to these family members and personalise sun-protection and surveillance accordingly.

“Identifying these genes will also further our understanding of how melanoma develops in the general population, possibly giving insight into alternative ways to treat it.”

Congratulations to the following UQ and QIMR Berghofer researchers for their 2019 ASSC Early Career Researcher Grants:

Investigator Co Investigators Project title
Dr Ken Dutton-Regester (QIMR Berghofer) Dr Mitchell Stark (UQDI) Flicking the switch: determining if a novel microRNA controls drug-resistance in late stage melanoma.
Dr Mathew
Jones (UQDI)
Professor Kum Kum
Khanna (QIMR Berghofer)
Reversing the “Warburg effect”: Targeting metabolic reprogramming and DNA repair to enhance
immunogenic cell death in melanoma.
Dr Aideen McInerney-Leo (UQDI) Dr Brigid Betz-Stablein (QIMR Berghofer) Using exome sequencing to identify new genes in families with inherited melanoma, negative for mutations in known genes.
Dr Marjan Mojtabavi Naeini (QIMR Berghofer) Dr Devika Ganesamoorthy (UQ IMB), Dr Nic Waddell (QIMR Berghofer) Accurate detection of complex structural variations in melanoma using long read quenching: Pilot study.

An ASSC Early Career Travel Award was also presented to UQDI’s James Dight for an accepted presentation at the European Society for Dermatological Research (ESDR) 2019 meeting.

The Australian Skin and Skin Cancer Research Centre (ASSC) was established in 2016 by The University of Queensland and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in recognition of the internationally recognised talent in skin and skin cancer research in Brisbane.

Media: Melissa Kerr, Melissa.kerr@uq.edu.au, (07) 3443 7494.