Sherly Mardiana, PhD student

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

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My research focuses on supercharging the immune system to combat cancer. We now know that our immune cells, called the T cells, have the ability to recognise and kill tumour cells. There are a lot of clinical trials now testing various drugs aimed at boosting these immune responses, so it is a very exciting area of research in cancer immunotherapy. In our laboratory, we genetically “engineer” T cells to express proteins that are able to recognise tumor cells. We are also using combination strategies with other immune-stimulating drugs to further enhance the T cell ability to kill the tumour cells. We are currently testing our combination therapy in a number of solid cancer models including breast cancer, colon cancer, and sarcoma. I am very interested in translational research where we can not only make discoveries in the laboratory, but also translate our findings from bench to the bedside, where our research will eventually be useful in helping treat cancer patients.

Few of the most important things in research to me are support, collaboration and helping each other. We cannot be the expert at everything, so communicating our research with other scientists and even non-scientists often helps us think outside the box, do things we would not otherwise have thought about. I am very passionate about cancer research and also the medicine side of it, so I aspire to further my education in the area of medicine as well. Having many female clinician-scientist role models at the PeterMac definitely helps me shape who I am today as a scientist, and has definitely motivated me to further my studies and career in the area of cancer research.