PhD Scholarship Top-up student profile: Jackie Huang

Phosphorylation of ERG in normal haematopoietic and leukaemic cells

Award:  Jackie is a recipient of a three-year PhD Scholarship Top-up

Supervisor: Dr John Pimanda, Senior Lecturer, UNSW & Stem Cell Group Team Leader, Lowy Cancer Research Centre

Jackie commenced her PhD in 2012, undertaking a project aiming to identify phosphorylated residues in the leukaemogenic transcription factor ERG by liquid chromatography-coupled tandem mass spectrometry. These residues will then be mutated into phospho-defective or phospho-mimetic residues, in order to assess the functional alterations of the protein in a cellular context. Once a functional impact is established, Jackie plans to identify the regulating pathway for protein phosphorylation via screening of a range of enzymes which control ERG phosphorylation status in vivo.

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Describe the clinical link to your research

GERG is mutated in a range of cancers and is highly expressed in acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. The impact of phosphorylation on ERG activity is not yet known. If the effect of phosphorylation on ERG activity regulation and leukaemogenesis is established, identification of the regulators of this pathway could be used to treat leukaemia and possibly other types of cancers.

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“The TCRN brings together both scientists and clinicians working across a broad spectrum of cancer research and care. As a member, I have the opportunity to communicate with people who have experience with similar topics as my project, allowing me to gain novel ideas and consider different approaches to my research.”

Jackie commenced her second year of PhD studies at the Prince of Wales Clinical School, UNSW in 2012.

 TCRN PhD Scholarship Top-up awardee Jackie Huang