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Bryony undertook her Honours project, her PhD research and her first postdoctoral research position within the Cancer Genetics group.  She now works as a Research Scientist for InteRNA Technologies in the Netherlands.

An interview with Bryony during her PhD research

Synthetic lethal interactions

Bryony Telford commenced her PhD in the field of personalised medicine in 2012. Her research included searching for drugs that could potentially be manipulated to help kill off cancer cells that lack the CDH1 gene. For her PhD project worked through the whole genome to find candidate drug targets, as well as 6,000 known drugs, to find potential synthetic lethal interactions with these cancer cells. This approach is about exploiting the cells’ vulnerabilities.

Bryony travelled to the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, to use specialised equipment to screen the genome with siRNA (as well as the huge volume of drugs), to find ways to kill cancer cells and not healthy cells.

Bryony was always keen on research and became interested in genetics in particular in response to the genetics modification debate. She likes working in an environment that has a clear connection between the lab bench and positive outcomes for people with cancer.

She is a great advocate for promoting science and has been very successful in speaking about her work:

  • She won second prize in the Otago School of Medical Sciences postgraduate colloquia speakers awards (which won her a trip to Queensland)
  • She won best student speaker at the RNAi Australia meeting, and a Millenium travel grant to attend a conference in Heidelberg

From Physiotherapy to the lab bench

Bryony hails from Waiwera South, in South Otago. She did her undergraduate study here at the University of Otago. She started off studying Physiotherapy, but working with genetics appealed so much she changed her path. Attaining a Summer Studentship in the Cancer Genetics Lab sealed her fate! She looks forward to an exciting and challenging career.

Outside the lab she’s a keen cyclist, loves organising people, and is a dab hand at crochet, knitting and making chutney.