Postgraduate cancer research student profiles

Ben Smith

Ben Smith

Ben is a PhD student at the Psycho-oncology Co-operative Research Group (PoCoG) in the School of Psychology. Before commencing his PhD, Ben spent two years developing his knowledge and skills working on various psycho-oncology research projects.

Ben’s PhD is investigating the prevalence and predictors of psychological distress and impaired quality of life in testicular cancer survivors. This is being achieved via a large cross-sectional analytic study with a follow-up qualitative component exploring issues of interest in more depth. It is one of the first studies in the world to systematically explore demographic, disease, psychological, and external factors as predictors of psychosocial outcomes. The study results will help inform strategies to improve the psychological wellbeing and quality of life of Australian testicular cancer survivors.

Ben is supervised by Prof Madeleine King, Prof Phyllis Butow, and Prof Ian Olver, and is supported by an Australian Rotary Health Ian Scott Scholarship in Mental Health.

Mohammed Ehsanul Hoque Mazumder

Mohammed Ehsanul Hoque Mazumder

Ehsan is an international full-time PhD student from Bangladesh in the Discipline of Biomedical Science, Sydney Medical School. His PhD project involves activation of trans-palladium compounds using bulky planaramine ligands aimed to overcome cisplatin resistance in ovarian cancer cell lines. The project involves synthesis and characterization of trans-palladium compounds followed by the determination of cytotoxicity, cell uptake, nature of interaction and level of DNA binding studies of those compounds. The research also relates to synergism from sequenced combinations of the newly designed palladiums and cisplatin as well as some selected phytochemicals such as thymoquinone, EGCG and ursolic acid etc. Besides determining synergism from drug combinations, the project also aims to determine changes in the expression of key proteins believed to be associated with chemo-resistance.

Ehsan is the recipient of an Endeavour Postgraduate Award 2009 awarded by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations of the Australian Government.

Liz Dylke

Liz received her undergraduate degree in Exercise Science from the University of British Columbia in Canada and her Masters of Physiotherapy from the University of Sydney.

She has been working with the Breast Cancer Research Group in the Faculty of Health Sciences for more than three years and is now working on her PhD degree with the group. The focus of her PhD research is improving the tools used to diagnose lymphoedema after the treatment for breast cancer with the goal of being able to diagnose lymphoedema earlier.

Liz was born and raised in Canada and moved to Australia four years ago with her husband. In her spare time she loves to cook and bake and competes in triathlons (to make up for all of the eating!).

Casina Kan

Casina Kan is a third-year PhD Student at The Kolling Institute of Medical Research, a part of The University of Sydney’s Northern Clinical School based at the Royal North Shore Hospital.

During her Bachelor degree, Casina undertook work placement at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, which piqued her interest on miRNAs. After graduating, Casina was employed as a research assistant at The Kolling Institute, looking at the role of insulin-like growth factor II receptor in breast cancer. During this time, she became interested in the processes underlying ovarian cancer disease development. Her PhD project combines both these interests, looking at miRNA dysregulation in ovarian cancer.

Taking time off to work after honours has been "a good transition. It allowed me to think carefully about what kind of project to work on. Having worked at The Kolling Institute I have the advantage of knowing potential supervisors and what facilities are available for my research."