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Wednesday 25 May 2022 9:23am

Research for Life Sonja Hummel  Molly Dore and Emma Symmonds
From left, Sonja Hummel, Molly Dore and Emma Symonds.

The three PhD candidates each received a portion of funding from Research for Life. The organisation gives grants to researchers doing work to benefit healthcare in the Wellington region, and beyond.

Molly Dore, Sonja Hummel and Emma Symonds are based at Otago's Wellington campus.

Molly received $31,855 in research funding. She is working to improve treatment options for women who have endometrial cancer (EC). Aotearoa New Zealand has a very high number of women with of EC, and numbers are rising rapidly in younger women.

The Mirena® is a long-acting reversible contraceptive device which has gained traction as a possible alternative treatment option to surgery for women with EC.

However, early evidence shows that for 1 of 3 women the Mirena® does not work.

Molly's research will investigate the role of cancer stem cells in the mechanism of resistance in women who do not respond to the Mirena®, and hopefully develop a clinical test to determine which women will respond to treatment, and which won't.

Sonja and Emma are both PhD candidates at the Department of Surgery and Anaesthesia.

Sonja received a research grant of $19,099 to undertake research to provide novel insights about current treatments for people with heart attacks.

Heart attacks are a leading cause of death and disability worldwide and are responsible for around 30% of deaths in the western world.

Sonja's research is investigating how current treatment options for heart attacks are affecting the immune system to better understand how the immune system contributes to the recovery and risks associated with heart attacks. Her research aims to improve the pathway of care for patients who are living with the consequences of heart attacks

Emma was awarded a travel grant of $2,660 to present her research at the International Society for Extracellular Vesicles annual meeting in Lyon, France this year.

Emma's research lies in improving autologous fat grafting as a breast reconstruction option for women who have had a mastectomy as part of their breast cancer treatment.

She intends to investigate the interaction between cell types in both the donor and breast tissue to improve variable graft retention rates currently associated with autologous fat grafting.

Four other researchers received grants for three projects; Anna Tribe and Melanie McConnell, Afnan Al Abadey, and Martin Dalefield, while Sarah Messenger also received a travel grant.

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