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1 in 2 of us will be diagnosed with cancer by age 85.
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Paving the way for the next generation of cancer researchers

For Ashleigh Poh, a summer internship has led to a meaningful career working on and leading cancer research projects. She is one of almost 90 researchers over the past 20 years who got their start through our Summer Vacation Studentships program.   

“I had an interest in research but didn’t know what I wanted to pursue after graduating and this opportunity came up for a studentship,” says Ashleigh.

Ashleigh Poh

“I applied at the Ludwig Institute of Cancer Research and found a great lab there that agreed to host me. In that project, I investigated the role of immune cells in gastrointestinal cancers.”

With the future of cancer treatment, prevention, and care dependent on nurturing the next generation of researchers, studentships are an important way to attract our best and brightest to careers in cancer research.

Ashleigh’s experience was the motivation she needed to continue in the field and ultimately complete a PhD, after which she was supported once again through a Post-Doctoral Fellowship thanks to the kind donations of our supporters.

“This, I feel, launched my career as a post-doctoral researcher because it gave me the opportunity to find my area of research, and build my confidence and expertise,” says Ashleigh.

Ashleigh’s research has focussed on developing new therapies for gastro-intestinal cancers that are currently in the preclinical phase.

“During my research, I worked on this project called HCK (hematopoietic cell kinase). It's a drug target that we demonstrated has the ability to reduce the growth and spread of cancers in over nine different preclinical cancer types. And that was really exciting for us because rather than having one drug target for one cancer, this suggests that one drug target has broad applicability across many different cancer types,” says Ashleigh.

“We've benefited from a number of Cancer Council Victoria grants to continue our research. So, I'm very grateful to Cancer Council Victoria for not only funding the start of my career, but throughout different stages of my career as well.”

Gifts in Wills is an important part of this early career funding, which is ensuring the future of cancer research is well-resourced and empowered to continue making new discoveries and improving outcomes for people with cancer.

Now a project manager at Jreissati Pancreatic Centre at Epworth which provides care and treatment to people with pancreatic disease, including pancreatic cancer, Ashleigh continues to advise on research projects while taking time out of the lab to work directly with patients.

We’re excited to see the impact of our many other early career researchers in the years to come.

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