ALCCRF Fellow Continues research in Toronto Canada

A Paediatric Oncologist at Monash Children’s Hospital and an Honorary Neuro-oncology Fellow at The Royal Children’s Hospital in Victoria, Dr Khan is currently undertaking a PhD investigating epigenetic mechanisms underlying childhood brain tumours, at the Hudson Institute of Medical Research. Dr Sara Khan was awarded the ALCCRF Clinical Research fellowship in 2016 enabling her to undertake important laboratory-based research while maintaining a presence in the clinic, an opportunity Dr Khan believes has been the key in her transformation into a patient-oriented, clinician-researcher. “To tell a parent your child has cancer is hard but knowing and telling them it will be difficult to treat is even harder. Having this extra knowledge helps me advocate for evidence-based therapies in these grim times for my families’ said Dr Khan. Last year, Dr Khan presented her research at the International Symposium of Paediatric Neuro-Oncology (ISPNO 2018) in Denver, Colorado where she was able to meet with the world’s leading researchers and clinicians. Since this conference, Dr Khan has been offered an opportunity to conduct part of her PhD thesis studies in the laboratory of Professor Annie Huang at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada.

Prof Huang is a world-renowned clinician-scientist in the area of paediatric neuro-oncology and translation of basic research into clinical management. The Hospital for Sick Children (known as SickKids) is a research-intensive institute involved in cutting edge translational research in childhood cancers.

Under Prof Huang’s tutelage, and in collaboration with her Hudson Institute mentor, Dr Jason Cain, Dr Khan will take lessons learned from successful leukaemia surveillance models to develop a childhood brain tumour surveillance method that will directly inform on a patient’s response to therapy and monitor progression. “The cure rates for leukaemia now approach >90% while they have stagnated for brain tumours despite maximal multimodal therapy” said Dr Khan. She will be involved in the conceptualisation, design and testing of this tool. During her time at SickKids, Dr Khan will also attend clinical neuro-oncology and molecular tumour board meetings to experience and learn the workings in a world-class Paediatric Neuro-oncology Centre.

Dr Khan feels that the knowledge gained from her experiences locally and internationally will undoubtedly make a significant impact in patient led care upon her return back to Melbourne. “Translational research is rapid, it’s in real time, it’s genuine patient focused care, and I will be learning from world class experts during time spent at SickKids. This opportunity would not have been possible without the support of ALCCRF and I am eternally grateful to you for providing me with this opportunity”.

Dr Khan will commence her project at Sickkids in June 2019