Clinician-scientist: Dr Mary-Ann Anderson
Specialty: Research fellow, Haematology, MBBS
Clinical appointment: Clinical Haematology and Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, The Royal Melbourne Hospital
How long have you been at the institute?
I started at the institute in February 2011.
What are you currently researching at the institute?
My research centres on the use of BH3-mimetics in the treatment of blood cancers. In addition to helping to look after the patients at RMH who are involved in the phase I clinical trial of the BH3-mimetic, ABT-199, I am also doing laboratory studies to elucidate the in vitro and in vivo efficacy and mechanism of action of this anti-cancer agent.
How has your research had an impact on the community, or how do you hope your research will impact the community?
I can see first hand in the clinic the impact of the research that we and others at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute have been doing over many years to develop the BH3-mimetics for clinical use.
What made you want to become a clinician-scientist, and how did you get involved in medical research?
In my field of haematology the past two decades have seen revolutions in the way we treat a number of previously fatal diseases, in particular chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) and acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APML). However there are still many unmet areas of need where current treatments remain suboptimal.
Working at RMH as a registrar I had the opportunity to see how clinician-scientists at the institute were helping to improve therapies for patients in a variety of areas. It was this example that made me want to be part of the process that helps develop new and better treatments for my patients.
Do you have any advice for someone wanting to become a clinician-scientist?
Research can seem daunting for doctors from a purely clinical background. However I would strongly advise anyone with an interest to have a go. Even after only one year I have a whole range of new skills and insights that will be useful throughout the rest of my career.
What are the benefits of being a clinician-scientist at WEHI?
Being a clinician-scientist at the institute puts you in a unique position whereby information learned in the laboratory can be directly applied in the clinic. And, conversely, clinical insights and hypotheses can be taken back to the laboratory to enrich ones research. It is the seamless nature of the clinical and laboratory work that is most useful in advancing therapies for patients.