What can young researchers do to help themselves succeed in a cancer research career? Dr Matt Dun has four tips.
Based in Newcastle with the Hunter Medical Research Institute and the University of Newcastle, Dr Matt Dun and his team are currently studying common gene mutations in people with leukaemia.
By developing a better understanding of how these mutations influence the way cells grow and survive, Dr Dun and his group are aiming to reposition therapies to target the disease.
He has seen his work take him across the world, but like all successful researchers he started as a young student learning from the people around him.
It can seem like a daunting task, making a start in an important and complex field like cancer research, but Dr Dun has four tips for young researchers:
1. Find a mentor
"Once you have that mentor and you feel a really strong bond towards them; someone that you admire, someone that is motivated, and someone that provides you with inspiration; then they’re always going to be able to provide you with ways to help you out throughout your early career."
2. Surround yourself with a strong and supportive team
"The team is everything. No single researcher can make that much of a difference without being surrounded by people who like to work for common goals."
3. Love what you do
"I think we’re all driven by the same motivations to do cancer research and that is the potential to make a difference to cancer patients. And to remain motivated during those years of hard, lab-based research is to recognise the small discoveries that you make along the way, and to imagine the promise that those can potentially make."
4. Be focused
"You need to remain focused, be surrounded by motivated, dedicated, like-minded people that are all working together for the common goal. Once you finish your PhD, if you’ve got that kind of drive, it just continues, and if you get a bit of luck along the way you ’re then faced with a huge responsibility. I think this fuels the fire as you now have the potential to improve the outcomes for patients through your research."
Promoting young, local researchers in NSW
Dr Dun is also working to promote the research achievements of young, local researchers in NSW through his role as a Director of the Australian Society for Medical Research (ASMR) and the ASMR Newcastle Committee.
The Cancer Institute NSW supports young cancer researchers in NSW through opportunities like Early Career Fellowships and the ‘Rising Star’ PhD Student Award.