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Empowering outstanding women in science

This article featured in Illuminate Newsletter Autumn ‘24
Key Researchers
Senior Research Officer
Dr Hannah Coughlan

DNA is often referred to as the blueprint for life; holding the instructions for how every cell in our body functions.

The complexity of these instructions is immense, with each layer of detail influencing characteristics such as eye colour, height and personality, as well our vulnerability to certain diseases.

Dr Hannah Coughlan, an early career genomics researcher at WEHI, is working to unravel the complexities of the DNA structure. Her work aims to shed light on how unique DNA features can either help or hinder the immune system’s ability to control disease.

Dr Coughlan’s cutting-edge research is generously supported by a three-year fellowship funded by The Marian and E.H. Flack Trust.

Support for women in the early stages of their research career is invaluable, particularly when navigating the challenges involved with prioritising career progression and having a family.

For Dr Coughlan, these challenges were greatly eased through the support of The Flack Trust and its willingness to adjust the funding schedule so that it aligned with her parental leave requirements.

“The security provided by The Marian and E.H. Flack Fellowship enabled me to enjoy parental leave without concern for my career prospects and empowered me to return to work invigorated and ready to push my research forward,” she said.

With thanks to The Flack Trust, Dr Coughlan’s research has the potential to identify unique DNA features that can predict disease progression, providing knowledge that could then be leveraged to improve approaches to treatment for a range of diseases.

First published on 19 March 2024
This article featured in Illuminate Newsletter Autumn ‘24
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