They grow up so fast – Fawziah and Bilge’s first year talks

Today Fawziah Asiri and Bilge Sari gave their first year PhD talks, a milestone in their journey that allows them to “upgrade” and officially progress into the later years of their studies.

Fawziah delivered first, telling her story-so-far that builds on the breast cancer paper we published early this year. That original paper identified that LaNt a31 is upregulated in breast cancer and changes the mode of invasion of cancer cells. Fawziah has now set about trying understanding the mechanism these effects. She already has some exciting results, identifying a major signalling pathway that is dysregulated in cells when they have too much LaNt. Lots of cool stuff to follow !

Fawziah in action… (I did ask he to move closer to the camera!)*

*Pre-COVID these were delivered to packed seminar rooms with every student and most faculty in the institute in attendance. However, we’re currently still delivering them online and this has one major negative effect; my obligatory right-of-passage photos turn into pretty poor screen grabs!

Bilge’s project has come from a slightly different direction but is also going down the cancer theme. Lots of the team’s prior work has been about laminin alpha3 in some way. One area where laminin alpha3 is really important is in pancreatic adenocarcinoma, where high expression of the gene in cancer tissue means that the person has ~3x higher risk than low expression tumours. However, that’s at the gene level, and the newest member of the laminin superfamily, LaNt a31, is also produced from the same gene but has never been studied in this context (even though we know it is expressed in the pancreas).

Bilge is exploring this new area and she is already seeing that differences in LaNt expression has a dramatic effect on pancreatic cancer cells. There’s lots more to follow here, so watch this space.

Sorry Bilge, this was the best screen grab I managed!

I always love these events; it is a really proud moment to see your students progressing so well. Both delivered really engaging presentations and did very well when questioned. It certainly bodes well for the future! The last few posts on the blog have marked the end of PhD journey’s for Conor and Liam, it’s really nice to be able to post again about students near the beginning of their journey. It’s the circle of life!

And finally.

I don’t want to show bias, but the best slide from all the students in the afternoon’s talks was undeniably in Fawziah’s deck…

Excellent slide design. (I had zero input to this slide!!)

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