Dr Lorey Smith

The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre


DESCRIBEyour research (i.e. what disease are you hoping to treat/cure?)

During my PhD at the University of Melbourne I studied the role of polarity regulators in oncogenic transformation by RAS working in the Cell Cycle and Cancer Genetics laboratory at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. During this time I developed a keen interest in networks controlling cancer cell plasticity. Interested in exploring this concept further in the setting of melanoma, I joined Professor Grant McArthur’s laboratory in 2014 as a postdoctoral researcher working on metabolic reprogramming by oncogenic BRAF. Leveraging genome wide functional genomics analysis of BRAF driven metabolic reprogramming, my research aims to discover novel mechanisms controlling metabolic plasticity.

Where are you hoping your research will take you?

I hope that my research enables me to make a difference for melanoma patients, including my father and inspiration in life, Ted Smith.

What do you need, as a female scientist, to keep doing your research?

 Personally, I have not felt the inequity that so often makes scientific progression for female scientists more difficult than their male counter parts. Regardless, I am acutely aware of the uneven playing field that troubles the majority of female scientists. I therefore look forward to metrics that ensure the successful progression of female scientists who are often forced to have an atypical career path in order to raise families or to take on the role of “carer”. How can we hope to achieve success against the major diseases plaguing humanity if only half the potential work force is in a position to tackle them? I look forward to a time when gender equity is no longer a subject of debate, but is understood to be an integral component of the collective and cooperative effort required to defeat the diseases we currently lose battle to all too frequently.

Do you have a role model who has inspired you? If so, tell us about them and how they have influenced your career.

My role model also happens to be my boss, Professor Grant McArthur - and not just because I’m hoping to sweet talk him! He also happens to be the oncologist who saved my dad’s life, therefore my research within his team is literally a dream come true. This is not only because I am able to investigate fundamental principals governing metabolic plasticity, but through opportunities he has provided me, I also feel poised to translate these discoveries to the clinic and make a difference in the lives of melanoma patients. His experience in many additional leadership roles has also provided much needed guidance in how to identify gaps and propose potential solutions in order to resolve perceived issues within the scientific system. This has proved instrumental in my current activities on both Gender Equity and Postdoctoral committees from which I strive to improve the experience of fellow junior scientists, both female and male.