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PhD Student secures RSE Saltire Early Career Fellowship

Esme Bullock, one of our PhD Students, has been awarded a fellowship to advance her breast cancer research project: October 2021

Some Early Career Researchers linked to the lobular breast cancer project with lobular breast cancer patient advocates from Lobu
Some Early Career Researchers (Esme in the centre) linked to the lobular breast cancer project with lobular breast cancer patient advocates from Lobular Breast Cancer UK during their visit in the CRUK Edinburgh Centre.

Congratulations to Esme Bullock who has received Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) Saltire Early Career Fellowship for her project titled “STAT3 as a therapeutic target in breast cancer”.

Saltire Early Career Fellowships are awarded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh, in collaboration with the Scottish Funding Council and the Scottish Government. Their purpose is to provide PhD students, postdoctoral researchers, and Early Career Researchers with a 3–12 month opportunity to focus on a research project of their choice in a university or research institute in another country, thereby supporting career development and high-quality research production through European connections and collaboration via inbound/outbound research placements.

Esme, a PhD student in the “Signalling and the regulation of cancer growth and metastasis” group led by Professor Val Brunton at the CRUK Edinburgh Centre, will use the funds to visit laboratories of Professors Valeria Poli and Daniela Taverna in the Department of Molecular Biotechnology and Health Sciences at the University of Turin, Italy. This will not only strengthen Edinburgh-Turin collaboration and provide Esme with an opportunity to learn new experimental techniques, but also create a unique possibility to advance a research project on the interactions between cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) and tumour cells in the context of breast cancer.

CAFs have been reported to support tumour progression in a wide variety of cancers through promotion of proliferation, invasion, metastasis, drug resistance and immunosuppression. The laboratories in Turin and Edinburgh identified STAT3, a protein found in CAFs that regulates gene expression, to be important in invasive lobular carcinoma and triple negative breast cancer, two subtypes of breast cancer for which there are few treatments. Esme’s project will focus on using novel ways to target STAT3 in human CAFs, to determine which genes it regulates, and how this affects tumour cells, potentially leading to a new treatment for breast cancer patients. Importantly, the project should also generate pre-clinical data on C12-200 STAT3 siRNA particles which target STAT3 and are currently under investigation towards clinical evaluation.

I am really excited about this unique collaborative research opportunity that has been enabled by the RSE Saltire Early Career Fellowship. It will not only produce some important research data, but should also help advance my career through broadening my skillset, network of collaborators and invaluable experience of working in a research lab in another country.

Esme BullockUniversity of Edinburgh

This is a fantastic opportunity for Esme and well deserved. It is a great scheme and I would encourage other PhD students and Early Career Researchers to apply.

Professor Val BruntonUniversity of Edinburgh

Related Links

The Royal Society of Edinburgh Saltire Early Career Fellowships: https://www.rse.org.uk/awards/rse-saltire-early-career-fellowships/

Professor Val Brunton Group website: https://www.ed.ac.uk/cancer-centre/research/brunton-group

Website of the Department of Molecular Biotechnology and Health Sciences at the University of Turin: https://www.dmbhs.unito.it/do/home.pl

Information about breast cancer: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/breast-cancer