Academic Clinical Lecturer, Queen's University Belfast

I trained as a medical oncologist, graduating from medicine in 2005 and commencing medical oncology training in 2009. I undertook a clinical research fellowship with the Stratified Medicine Group, with Professor Richard Kennedy, in 2012. From studying the biology underpinning a subgroup of breast tumours with DNA damage response deficiency, I identified constitutive STING immune pathway activation in cancers which have a DNA repair defect. This results in immune gene expression in these cancers. This has important implications for treatment of these patients with immune targeted treatment.

I now focus on exploiting the STING pathway in anti-cancer treatment. I also work on developing ex vivo models of cancer for understanding immune response. In addition, I am involved in developing blood-based biomarkers for DNA damage response deficiency. I work in collaboration with experts in both DNA damage and immunology, and my research sits at the interface of these fields.

In my clinical work as a medical oncologist, my focus is on the care of breast cancer and melanoma patients. I love the balance and challenge of academic and clinical work – my academic research stimulates my work in the clinic, and my patients drive me to make cancer treatment better.
 
I also have an interest in narrative medicine, where the art of medicine is learned and practiced through stories. This relies on evidence-based medicine, but also values the impact of stories on both doctors and patients. The doctor-patient relationship is the cornerstone of medical practice, and understanding the complexities and nuance of this relationship encourages our practice to improve. I have published blog posts with Naturejobs.com on mentorship, succeeding in science and the importance of science communication. Engagement of scientists with the public and policy makers is key for the future of research.

Experience

  • –present
    Academic Clinical Lecturer, Queen's University Belfast