Dr Clare Weeden
“A small discovery in the lab may make a difference to the next generation of patients”
Investigating the metastasis of lung cancer
Clare’s research grant is supported by The Peter Charody and Cure Cancer Grant.
Clare is a Lung Cancer Researcher at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne.
She became interested in lung cancer research while studying for her PhD at the University of Melbourne, during which time she participated in research outside the lab by speaking and volunteering at lung cancer awareness events. ‘I met incredible lung cancer patients who spoke about the challenges they face, their fight for lung cancer research and their determination for things to be better for the next generation. It’s hard to not be inspired when you meet people like that.’
By the time lung cancer has been diagnosed it has usually spread to other sites in the body. The biological differences between the ‘primary’ lung cancers and their metastases are not well known, which hinders the quest for a cure.
Clare seeks to understand the unique properties of metastatic cancer cells in order to develop new, targeted therapies. Her research will profile cancer and immune cells from primary tumours and metastases from lung cancer patients. ‘To identify the precise molecules involved in lung cancer metastasis is the ultimate goal of this work, which could reveal new drug targets,’ says Clare. ‘We hope our discoveries will improve treatment options, especially for those patients with advanced disease.’
The Importance of Funding
No scientific discovery could happen without funding and in an increasingly competitive field, Cure Cancer grants are ‘incredibly important’ says Clare. Her grant means she can ask vital and challenging research questions and use state-of-the-art technologies to interrogate them. On a personal level, the funding has given her independence, confidence and the best possible start to the next step in her research career.
‘Hearing from friends and family about their experiences with cancer opens your eyes to the reality of treatment and keeps me focused on what matters,’ says Clare. ‘It’s a constant reminder that a small discovery in the lab may make a difference to the next generation of patients.’
‘While cancer is scary, ultimately it’s a disease with treatment options. In the past five years there have been remarkable improvements in treatments, quality of life and cancer-free survival for patients, and the odds will continue to improve with more research.