Researcher in focus

Dr Katie Dixon

Katie Dixon

I am currently working as a Cancer Institute NSW Early Career Research Fellow within the Discipline of Anatomy and Histology. I undertook a PhD project under Prof. Rebecca Mason in the Discipline of Physiology. My PhD studies were on the protective effects of vitamin D in skin cancer. In 2008, I joined Prof. Des Richardson’s team as a postdoctoral researcher and studied the effects of novel iron chelators on prostate cancer. I was successful in securing a NHMRC Postdoctoral Training Fellowship in 2009 and continued with this work until mid 2012, when I returned to working on skin cancer under Prof. Mason in Physiology. At the end of 2012 I took up a position in the Discipline of Anatomy and Histology and was successful in my application for a Cancer Institute Fellowship. This enabled me to start my own research team.

My current research focuses on both skin cancer prevention and treatment. I am interested in targeting the early events that lead to skin cancer, such as DNA damage and immune suppression. I also aim to better understand the growth and metastasis of melanoma, the third most common cancer in Australian men and women, and the most common cancer in young Australians aged 15-39.

I have wanted to work as a cancer researcher since I was 11 years old (when I realised I probably would not make a living as a violinist). Everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer, and this is what motivates me to do what I do. One of the downsides of living in such a beautiful country is that Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. As a surf lifesaver, I certainly enjoy an outdoor lifestyle and will continue on my quest to discover how sunlight, fair hair and freckles can coexist in harmony.

Outside of work, I can usually be found at Ocean Beach Surf Lifesaving Club or hanging out with my golden retriever, Einstein. I do have a tendency to sign myself up for endurance events too.

Dr Daniel Johnstone

Dan Johnstone

I am currently working as an NHMRC Early Career Fellow within the Bosch Institute. I was awarded a PhD from the University of Newcastle in 2011, where I undertook research relating to the effects of the iron overload disorder haemochromatosis on molecular systems in the brain. This was followed by post-doctoral research in bioinformatics, which primarily focused on the discovery of blood biomarkers for the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease.In 2012, I relocated to Sydney to join the lab of Prof. Jonathan Stone, part of the Bosch Institute and Discipline of Physiology.

My current research focusses on developing safe yet effective therapies for the treatment of age-related diseases of the central nervous system, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and macular degeneration.

I’ve long been fascinated by the complexity of the human body and eager to better understand how it works and why things go wrong. It is this curiosity that essentially guided me towards a career in medical research. The sense of discovery associated with empirical research provides a great deal of excitement and gratification, while the aim of making advances that could ultimately benefit the health and well-being of others provides a great deal of motivation and inspiration.

Outside of work, I’m a big fan of sports (go the Knights!) and enjoy travelling, playing guitar, reading about world politics and basically any outdoor activity… as well as the occasional lager with the boys.