Our people

Dr Patries Herst

Dr Patries Herst completed her MSc in microbiology at the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands in 1982, followed by an MPhil in microbiology from Waikato University in 1984. After a period of absence from academia, she completed a PhD at the Malaghan Institute in 2006 under Professor Mike Berridge in cancer cell energy metabolism. Her thesis research characterised a novel electron transport chain in the plasma membrane of proliferating cells. Plasma membrane electron transport, in addition to mitochondrial electron transport and lactate dehydrogenase activity, recycles NADH to NAD+ and forms an excellent target in highly glycolytic cancer cells. 

Dr Herst has held a number of appointments at the Department of Radiation Therapy, University of Otago, Wellington: Lecturer (2001-2008), Senior Lecturer (2008-2015) and most recently Associate Professor (2015- present). She is part of the Cancer Cell Biology team led by Professor Mike Berridge.

Research interests

The ability of some cancer cells to prevail against radiation therapy and chemotherapy is fascinating; I have spent a lot of time in the last decade to find ways to overcome treatment resistance, using high dose vitamin C and high oxygen-perfluorocarbon nanoparticles.

My current interests centre once again on energy metabolism in cancer cells and their absolute requirement for mitochondrial oxygen consumption (but not mitochondrial ATP production) to form tumours. Cells that cannot respire must obtain respiring mitochondria from elsewhere before they can form tumours. Using a variety of gene knockout cancer cell lines with different levels of respiration and mitochondrial ATP production, we intend to elucidate their importance in metastasis in the next three years.

In addition to preclinical research I also run clinical trials that investigate better ways to manage radiation-induced acute side effects in various hospitals in NZ and China (2008-present).

Research group

Cancer Cell Biology Group
Research Group Leader: Professor Mike Berridge
Senior Research Fellow: Dr Patries Herst
Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Bioinformatics: Dr David Eccles
Postdoctoral Research Fellow: Georgia Carson
PhD Students: Rebecca Dawson
National Collaborators: Dr Andrew Muncaski
Dr Melanie McConnell
Dr Robert Weinkove
International Collaborators: Professor Jiri Neuzil
Dr Lanfeng Dong
Professor Justin St John
Stepána Boukalová