Dr Sarah Hayes recently joined the AGITG and GI Cancer Institute in the new Translational Research Coordinator role.
HOW DID YOU COME TO WORK IN RESEARCH?
My parents are both scientists, so I think I was born to have a career in research! I originally trained to be a microbiologist, but when I lost several close family members to cancer, I felt compelled to change my research career to help those people living with cancer.
BEFORE JOINING AGITG, WHAT WERE YOUR PREVIOUS ROLES?
I completed my PhD at Macquarie University in bowel cancer research, where I used specialist mass spectrometry to identify proteins that could predict for patient outcome. Since then, I have worked at the Kolling Institute (based at Royal North Shore Hospital and part of the University of Sydney), using proteomics to answer a range of clinical questions in lung and GI cancers. My research centred around personalising cancer treatments to the patient- basically, can we identify a protein or proteins that change reflective of a particular patient outcome? If these proteins can be identified, then clinicians could use this information to move away from a “one size fits all” treatment regimen and guide the patient’s therapy to best suit their own biology.
WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THE ROLE AT THE AGITG?
I had previously worked with AGITG on their INTEGRATE trial with Professor Nick Pavlakis, where I used proteomics to identify proteins associated with prognosis and predictive of regorafenib response. When I found out about the role, I was really excited to apply as I already was thinking of expanding the GI cancer research I was doing. I am passionate about bridging the gap between “basic science” and clinical cancer research – making sure scientists, nurses, clinicians, and patients can work together to improve how we treat cancer in the future.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACHIEVE IN THE ROLE?
I hope that I can bring to this role my years of experience as a cancer researcher to facilitate access to the valuable specimens from AGITG clinical trials for translational research. I would love to see us expanding our collaborations with scientists and clinicians around Australia to build on our knowledge of these diseases together so that we can ultimately better treat GI cancers and improve patient lives.