Dr Ashleigh Poh
AGE 29 PANCREATIC CANCER RESEARCHER AT THE OLIVIA NEWTON- JOHN CANCER RESEARCH I NSTITUTE
Pancreatic cancer kills almost 3000 Australians every year and has one of the worst survival rates at just 7 per cent.
Dr Poh is targeting a protein known as haematopoietic cell kinase (HCK), which is found in a type of immune cell called a macrophage. She has discovered the more HCK a macrophage cell has, the better they are at helping cancer cells survive.
“We have a drug that targets HCK and reduces tumour growth in six different tumours, including pancreatic,” she said. “It works by stopping the ability of the immune cell to promote tumour growth.”
She credits her science teachers for inspiring her to pursue her studies but her motivation now is the patients she meets.
“I have lost family members to cancer so I have a personal motivation, but was continuously motivated by the patients we meet,” she said.