UQ Institute for Molecular Bioscience researcher Dr Laura Genovesi is raising a young family while fine-tuning a potential treatment for medulloblastoma, the most common type of malignant childhood brain cancer.

The Mary McConnel Career Boost Program for Women in Paediatric Research will allow Dr Genovesi to hire a technician three days a week to help with experiments, and fund travel expenses and the extra childcare costs caused by travel. “You can waste significant research time if your experiment hasn’t finished and you have to leave at five on the dot to get to childcare,” she said “At this stage of my career, I’m still working in the lab but also writing papers and beginning to think about my own grant applications, and there is the pressure to get to the next step, which is setting up your own lab.”

“Networking is a big part of this, and it is a struggle to get away to conferences when you have young children — the last time I went to a conference, we had a hefty babysitting bill, which is just not sustainable,” Dr Genovsi said. “I think more organisations should provide this type of grant; it is invaluable for me to progress both my research and my career and there are lots more female researchers out there who could benefit.”

Dr Genovesi’s previous work identified a breast cancer treatment that was effective against medulloblastoma, causing rapid tumour regression. “We will find out how the drug works to shrink cancers, why it works in some patients but not all and how can we fit the drug in with current treatments like chemotherapy, to improve the outcome for children with this type of brain cancer.”

The drug is already in clinical trials with patients in the United States and Dr Genovesi hopes the knowledge she gains can also improve outcomes for Australian children with malignant childhood brain cancer.

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