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Ms Komal Patel chose to come here for her Honours year after learning about the Institute’s scientific legacy in lectures. Her research is investigating a factor that may help an aggressive blood cancer to grow and progress.

Understanding leukaemia signalling

As an undergraduate studying immunology at the University of Melbourne, Komal heard about the Institute’s groundbreaking studies in the field. “Many of the concepts that are fundamental to immunology – such as clonal selectionthe distinction between B and T lymphocytes, and how B and T cells collaborate to produce antibodies – were discovered right here at the Institute. This, plus the fascinating Honours research projects on offer, encouraged me to start my research career here,” she said.

Komal’s research is looking at whether the cytokine (signalling protein) interleukin-11 helps acute myeloid leukaemia, an aggressive blood cancer, to grow and progress. “My project builds on the expertise of my supervisors, Dr Tracy Putoczki and Dr Gabriella Brumatti, in cytokine signalling and blood cancers,” she said. “We already know that interleukin-11 is important in many other types of cancer, so I’m investigating its role in AML – which may lead to better treatments in the future.

Maintaining leukaemia cell lines in tissue culture, western blotting to detect proteins and analysing gene transcription using ‘qRT-PCR’ are among the techniques Komal uses in her project.

“I’ve learnt a lot since starting Honours, and my lab has really supported me to develop new laboratory skills and develop an understanding of how my project fits into the wider field of research.”
– Komal Patel

“I’ve also appreciated the financial support provided by to Honours students at the Institute, the $5000 Alan Harris Scholarship.”

Fantastic opportunities

Komal says her Honours year has provided many fantastic opportunities.

“It is a great honour to be a student at the Institute, where numerous discoveries took place and many more await in the foreseeable future.”
– Komal Patel

“The Institute’s Honours program provides a range of networking opportunities with research experts locally and internationally, to improve existing and to learn new techniques in the field. I’d love to continue my education at the Institute as a PhD student,” she said.

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