Immune cells in breast cancer
Jody Hazlett is an Assistant Research Fellow in the Cancer Genetics Lab (CGL). She works in Breast cancer. Her research focuses on understanding the role of immune cells. The immune system can be both beneficial and detrimental in different diseases.
The breast cancer cells she started studying survive even without the presence of oestrogen (reducing oestrogen is a key element of treatment for many breast cancers) and they thought immune cells could be flocking to the tumour and helping it survive. The first step was to verify if this was happening, having done that, Jody’s exploring aspirin as an anti-inflammatory. Will it stop the immune cells coming to the tumour? If this is borne out, trials will move to a mouse model. There is potentially a huge benefit but it’s early stages, and things don’t always go to plan. Another project Jody is working on is trying to understand how tumours trick the immune system into believing they should not be attacked.
Jody worked in CGL after her degree, then funding constraints saw her move to an arthritis study. This role led to a focus on the immune system. Following that this position in CGL became available and her work in immunology fitted in perfectly.
Jody particularly likes “working on the edge of known knowledge” and learning new things. She enjoys hands on bench-work in the lab and finds it’s really satisfying to have work published.
Balancing life and work
Jody likes that she can maintain a work-life balance with her family by working part-time, but still having a challenging job that can lead to exciting breakthroughs. She appreciates the time flexibility and independence her works allows.
Jody hails from a small community in Taranaki. Initially she was encouraged to pursue medicine, but being Jody - she did her research! She decided that for her, she wanted to choose a profession that enabled her to enjoy family life and still make a significant contribution to advancing health. We’re pleased that she did.
Jody continues to be a voracious reader and enjoys social time with friends and family.