The cancer immunotherapy team

Research for Life latest funding in support of Malaghan researchers

29 October 2018

Two Malaghan Institute scientists were among the ten Wellington-based researchers awarded funding by Research for Life, the public face of the Wellington Medical Research Foundation. Research for Life funds innovative quality research undertaken by researchers in the early stages of their careers who, through their work, will advance the quality of healthcare in the Wellington region and beyond.

In this round of funding Dr Laura Ferrer-Font and PhD student Olivia Burn - both members of the cancer immunotherapy programme headed by Professor Ian Hermans - had successful applications go through.

Dr Laura Ferrer Font, who holds a research fellow position at the Institute, received a Research For Life grant of $11,531 to undertake research to evaluate different immune cells in cancer. She is specifically using new techniques to establish how macrophages contribute to cancer, and whether their activity can be modified with specific drugs that alter their function.

Additionally, Olivia Burn, who is completing her PhD in breast cancer research, received a travel grant of $2,122 to present her research at the International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference in New York this October. Olivia’s research is focused on a new immunotherapy that acts by disrupting a key pathway in immune cells to enhance their activation against cancer-specific proteins and drive a strong anti-tumour immune response. As this research was recently patented and therefore not previously presented, Olivia noted it was exciting to promote New Zealand-based research to an international audience and discuss her findings with experts in the field.

Dr Rebecca Grainger, Chair of RFL’s Research Advisory Committee, said: “Research For Life congratulates the successful applicants of this round of funding. The research they are undertaking is innovative, well-conceived and vital to achieving continuing improvements in health outcomes in the community.”

The Malaghan Institute is thankful for Research for Life's ongoing support and their dedication in supporting and encouraging young, talented people to engage in medical and biomedical research in Wellington.