PhD Scholarship Top-up student profile: Simon Brayford

TCRN PhD Scholarship Top-up Recipient: Simon Brayford TCRN PhD Scholarship Top-up Recipient: Simon Brayford

Tropomyosin Based Regulation of Actin Dynamics at the Leading Edge of Migrating Cells

Award: Simon is the recipient of a one year PhD Scholarship Top-up

Supervisor:  Prof Peter Gunning, Professor of Oncology Research, School of Medical Sciences, UNSW

Cancer related mortality can be largely attributed to malignant cells acquiring the ability to move out of a tumour and spread to other areas of the body, resulting in growth of a new tumour. This process is known as metastasis and represents a serious problem in control of the disease. My project hopes to further understand this process on a sub-cellular level by manipulating the amount of a specific protein, known as tropomyosin, found in cancer cells and then measuring the ability of these cells to migrate or move. It is envisioned that this research will lead to an increased understanding of the way cancer cells move out of a tumour and spread, and this in turn will lead to the development of more sophisticated therapeutics aimed at inhibiting metastasis and improving patient outcomes through the arrest of disease progression.

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What is the translational application of your research?

This project falls into the category of acting as the interface between basic research and the clinical setting, wherein new knowledge of disease mechanisms can be developed into clinically relevant understandings and diagnostic and treatment regimens to be trialled in humans. In light of the mortality of metastatic cancer and a current deficit in scientific knowledge of the precise mechanisms regulating this process, this project involves the translation of basic research into research with humans. By providing a comprehensive investigation of the regulatory mechanisms of cell motility and recapitulating these findings in a metastatic cell model of human cancer, this project will provide insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying metastasis. It is envisioned that this in turn will lead to the development of more sophisticated diagnostics and therapeutics, improving patient outcomes.

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"The involvement of consumers in various phases of the research process is important in ensuring that issues important to consumers are identified and prioritised. This is becoming more and more prevalent in basic cancer research as media attention has never before been so focused on the development of novel treatment strategies.

The TCRN will therefore benefit my research efforts by enabling consumers identify that new therapeutics and arise from an understanding of underlying disease mechanisms.

Through the dissemination of knowledge outside the realm of scientific literature, the TCRN will act as a link to my findings more accessible to the non-scientist in the context of healthcare."

This PhD research has been presented at the following conference:

  • 2013: ComBio meeting in Perth, Poster presentation "Tropomyosin Based Regulation of Actin Dynamics at the Leading Edge". Brayford S, Schevzov G & Gunning P. (2013). This Poster was the recipient of both the ASBMB & ANZSCDB Best student poster prizes at the meeting.

Simon Brayford commenced his second year of PhD studies at the School of Medical Sciences, UNSW Australia in 2014.