Researcher of the Month: Dr. Hannah Chen
How did you get interested in your scientific work? My background is in virus engineering and cancer. I became interested in immunotherapy for treating solid tumours and realised that in order to develop efficacious therapies, I must first gain an understanding of how the immune system becomes dysfunctional in disease settings, such as chronic inflammation and cancer.
I'm most interested in how peripheral tolerance induction occurs and how tumour immunosurveillance becomes subverted during cancer progression.
Q: What are you working on now?
I am studying the phosphatase network regulating PI3K signalling in regulatory T cells. I am also working with T and B cells from patients with a dysregulated PI3K signalling pathway and studying the effects of isoform-selective PI3K inhibition. The goal is to validate the use of small molecule inhibitors to restore the balance of this pathway, therefore reducing the clinical symptoms of PI3K dysregulation.
Q: What do you enjoy the most about working in science?
I enjoy testing new ideas and trying to find a therapeutic angle in everything I study. For me translational research is very important and I can't feel excited about a project unless I can see a potential therapeutic application. In our laboratory, we are able to work with patient samples to investigate the underlying mechanisms of disease, and in doing so we also hope to find treatments for those patients. This makes the hard work worthwhile.