NUI Galway Research Scholar Awarded Irish Cancer Society Prize

Monday, 22 November 2010

NUI Galway Research Scholar, Lisa Vincenz, has been awarded a Research Scholarship and Fellowship Programme by the Irish Cancer Society. Lisa is starting her PhD studies in biochemistry in the University's Apoptosis Research Centre and the School of Natural Sciences. Her studies will be focused on how some cancer cells can be protected from chemotherapy drugs. The aim of her PhD research is to find strategies to interfere with these protective mechanisms in order to sensitise the cancer cells to chemotherapy. Lisa was one of eight students to receive an Irish Cancer Society Scholarship, five at Scholarship level and three at Fellowship level at a recent awards ceremony held in Dublin where Ms Mary Harney, Minister of Health and Children presented some of Ireland's most gifted young cancer researchers with inaugural Irish Cancer Society's Research Scholarship Awards and Research Fellowship Awards. The research Lisa Vincenz is carrying out may lead to the development of novel, more effective cancer treatments. She is studying the ways in which cancer cells can escape cell death and become resistant to chemotherapy. Her project looks at the way a protein in the body called Hsp70 can protect cancer cells from cell death and at the development of drugs that can block this action of Hsp70. This research is based on a recent discovery made by researchers at NUI Galway and could lead to the development of more effective treatments for cancer and is particularly relevant for patients with a blood cancer called multiple myeloma but also apply to solid tumours. Professor Afshin Samali, Project Supervisor and Director of Apoptosis Research Centre said that "by understanding more about Hsp70 and the way it functions, scientists can learn how to block its function and interfere with cancer cells so they can no longer survive exposure to stressful conditions. This could have significant implications in the development of new cancer drugs, which would block the protein to encourage tumour cell death". Professor Samali states, "Lisa is a highly gifted individual and she has a major contribution to make in our efforts to understand what goes on in cancer cells and help with the development of approaches to eliminate cancer cells." Lisa Vincenz said "being awarded a prestigious Scholarship from the Irish Cancer Society will enable me to carry out cutting-edge cancer research and make a contribution to the betterment of society." The Irish Cancer Society, as part of its commitment to cancer research and to cultivating the next generation of cancer researchers, awarded €1.2 million to researchers through their research scholarship and fellowship programmes. The awards were presented by Minister for Health Mary Harney TD at a special ceremony in Dublin. In total, 56 applications were received this year for both schemes from hospitals and academic institutions all over Ireland. All applications went through a rigorous selection process where they were reviewed by international experts in cancer research.
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