Entry for:Inspire Australia Research Competition
Dr Watson is an unfunded mid-career medical researcher. Dr Watson highlights the importance of medical research funding to support mid-career researchers, who have the skills and knowledge to be great scientists, but lack the support and funding required to continue their important research. Dr Watson conducts research in the field of transplantation, and is currently an Honorary Fellow at the University of Wollongong working on graft-versus-host disease, a major complication that can occur in cancer patients undergoing donor stem cell or bone marrow transplantation.
Dr Watson completed her PhD in 2006 and has over 15 years’ experience in medical research laboratories. Dr Watson has published her research in highly ranked immunology and transplant journals, presented at national and international immunology and transplant conferences, and won several prizes for her research.
Yet, Dr Watson is a mid-career medical researcher that is currently not funded.
Despite this, Dr Watson continues to conduct laboratory research at the University of Wollongong (UOW), working as an Honorary Fellow. Dr Watson currently supervises two Honours students and one PhD student at UOW.
Dr Watson continues to apply for grant funding.
Dr Watson’s current research is on graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), a major complication in cancer patients undergoing donor stem cell or bone marrow transplantation. Blood cancers including leukaemia and lymphoma are generally treated by chemotherapy which attacks the cancer but also knocks out the patient’s immune system.
Transplantation of donor stem cells or bone marrow replaces the immune system and can be a curative therapy in the cancer patient. However, GVHD can occur when immune cells from the donor attack the cancer patient or host tissues. Up to 50% of cancer patients having a donor transplant will develop some form of GVHD, and up to 15% will die from GVHD complications.
Dr Watson and her students are examining ways to prevent GVHD by targeting pathways associated with the immune response and tissue damage.
Let’s support Dr Watson and other mid-career medical research scientists and get them back in the lab doing important medical research.