PhD Candidate Profile: Michael Odutola

14 December 2020

What is your research about?

Follicular lymphoma (FL) is the second most common type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) in adults. FL is typically characterised by an indolent course, with frequent relapses after treatment. FL occurs more commonly in men than women and also more commonly in Caucasians compared to other ethnicities. There are about 1,000 new FL cases diagnosed in Australia every year. The cause of FL is poorly understood, and most epidemiological studies of NHL have had insufficient numbers of FL cases to reliably examine risk. FL risk is known to increase with older age, immune deficiency, and family history. Risk may also increase for those with a history of smoking, and decrease with alcohol consumption, sun exposure and history of allergies.

We have enrolled FL cases and family controls in New South Wales and Victoria to identify factors that predispose people to develop FL. We aim to examine the relationship between medical, lifestyle, environmental, occupational factors, common genetic variants, and risk of developing FL using a population-based family design that offers greater validity of exposure data. We also aim to investigate the effect of these risk factors on survival for people diagnosed with FL.

What is the translational application of your research?

This research will give insights into risk reduction, early detection, and potentially targeted FL prevention and therapy. Our findings will be widely disseminated to cancer consumers, the general public and government agencies to help inform public health-decision making and practices, and health care providers in conveying necessary advice on behavioural changes and risk modification with the goal of improving patient care and clinical outcomes. Our findings will add to the body of data used by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in their evaluations of causes of cancers. The IARC classifications are used internationally to drive policy on cancer control.

How would the TCRN PhD top-up Scholarship help you succeed?

The TCRN scholarship will aid the advancement of my research by providing additional resources to attend relevant conferences and access to professional TCRN workshops. It will provide me the unique opportunity to interact and engage with consumers, and other scientists and clinicians in the field of translational cancer research.