To give those affected with a currently incurable form of blood cancer a fighting chance, PhD candidate Rachel Mynott’s research is seeking to understand if a newly identified form of cell death can help develop effective treatments.
Rachel completed Honours at Flinders, and is now half way through a PhD. Her research pathway wasn’t predetermined, but it’s something she feels suits her well. “During my undergraduate degree I enjoyed the lab-based topics and doing experiments, although I never planned to get into research. But because I loved being hands-on and investigating, I decided to pursue what I enjoyed. With my research, I ask a question, then physically look for an answer. It’s very satisfying. Even if it is not the expected result, I have still done the work to answer the question. The variety appeals to me; from working at the lab bench, to analysing results at my desk, I’m not stuck doing one thing.”
Rachel is investigating a form of cell death, ferroptosis, as an approach to treating multiple myeloma and other aggressive B cell malignancies. Ferroptosis is a newly identified process, with many research groups around the world seeking to understand it better, both for potential cancer fighting applications, but also looking at its role in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. At the forefront of this new area of study, Rachel is excited about the possibilities that may be uncovered. “Collaborating is very interesting. We’re all looking to understand how ferroptosis works.” She’s keeping an open mind about where her work could lead: “ I love research and doing experiments, and I like cancer research. It holds so much meaning, incurable diseases motivate you to do the research and find solutions. The area of study I’ve found myself in, ferroptosis, is fascinating. It’s so broad and has implications for cancers, neurodegeneration, and beyond. There are big gaps in our knowledge. To be part of discovering the unknown is rewarding and exciting.
Rachel’s work is supported by a scholarship from Flinders Foundation. https://www.flindersfoundation.org.au/2020/11/22/multiple-myeloma-phd/