Dr Susan Christo receives inaugural CASS Foundation Award

The postdoctoral researcher from Dept of Microbiology & Immunology, has become the first recipient of the Daniel Rechtman Research Award from the CASS Foundation.

Dr Susan Christo, works in the laboratory of Professor Laura Mackay, Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Doherty Institute. Her research project – Investigating the radioresistant properties of cancer-specific resident T cells – will look at how some immune cells found in melanoma can evade radiation therapy during cancer treatment, which may lead to improved radiation therapy treatment.

In our study, we want to discover how immune cells can avoid self-destruction when exposed to irradiation. Identifying how these cells can protect themselves will lead us to new treatments that can ensure other immune cells are not killed by irradiation.

“Our goal is to create a therapy that keeps our cancer-fighting immune cells alive during treatment, which can then reduce the amount of radiation therapy a patient needs while still destroying the tumour. Patients can recover more rapidly, and the lack of ongoing treatments will help prevent subsequent adverse side-effects that affect a patient’s quality of life.”

Dr Christo said she is honoured to receive the 2022 Daniel Rechtman Research Award.

“I am thrilled to be the inaugural awardee but also grateful for what this funding means for our research. The generous support of the CASS Foundation will allow us to continue our momentum and expand on our novel findings.”

The CASS Foundation, a philanthropic foundation established in 2001, supports and promotes the advancement of education, science and medicine, and research and practice in those fields. The Daniel Rechtman Research Award was established to mark the 20th anniversary of the commencement of the CASS MedSci grants in 2002 and to celebrate Daniel Rechtman’s role as the founding Chair of CASS.

David Abraham, Executive Director and Chair of the CASS Foundation, said the Foundation is proud to support researcher projects which have the potential to improve understanding of key concepts and lead to improved treatment and practice.

“The advancement of research and science is a core part of our mission to ‘Contribute to Australian Scholarship and Science’ – CASS,” Mr Abraham said.

“By supporting emerging researchers, we are fostering the current and next generation of leaders who will pave the way forward to the next scientific breakthrough in infection and immunity.”

This article was originally published by the Doherty Institute on 2 February 2023.

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