Meet Hadiyat Ogunlayi, an MB-PhD student. In her PhD project, she’ investigating the relationship between a stromal wound healing phenotype and breast density as a mechanism for breast cancer development.
In the future, I would like to work as a clinician and specialise in oncology. For now, however, I want to continue working in cancer research alongside my training and see what research opportunities come my way.
What is your background?
I began my undergraduate studies at The University of Bristol in 2012 in Biochemistry, which I followed with a Master’s in Biomedical Sciences Research. After this, I began my medical degree at The University of Manchester. Upon completing my third year of medicine, I enrolled on the MB-PhD programme in 2020, which is funded by Cancer Research UK through their Clinical Academic Training Grant.
Tell us about your research.
My research is focused on investigating the relationship between a stromal wound healing phenotype and breast density. This study utilises the Manchester Cancer Research Centre Biobank to provide residual breast tissue samples from patients undergoing therapeutic mastectomies at Wythenshawe Hospital. Fibroblasts are being grown ex vivo from the breast cancer and DCIS tissue samples and their corresponding normal breast tissue samples. I will compare the wound-like behaviours of different fibroblasts to see whether the procoagulant fibroblasts promote cancer-like behaviour in ER+, Triple negative, DCIS and normal breast cell lines.
I will also go on to test whether anti-clotting drugs can inhibit the progression of DCIS to invasive breast cancer. I will investigate how coagulation relates to inflammation in the tumour environment. Findings from these experiments hope to identify predictive markers of breast cancer along with potential therapies to improve treatment of breast cancer.
What’s it like to study in Manchester?
Manchester is uniquely placed to investigate the behaviour of live human fibroblasts from breast tissue due the expertise of the breast cancer researchers at the Manchester Breast Centre. As a Consultant Breast Cancer Surgeon, Professor Cliona Kirwan is an ideal supervisor to inform and guide research activities within this project. Additionally, Dr Anne Armstrong, a Consultant in Medical Oncology at The Christie provides a clinical outlook to guide research questions from a patient’s perspective. Professor Rob Clarke who is the director of the Manchester Breast Centre and the head of the Breast Biology Group, is the ideal supervisor for providing significant guidance especially with regards to the experimental work. In addition to supervisory guidance, the other researchers within the breast biology laboratory including John Castle who is Professor Kirwan’s Research associate, provide significant input and guidance to further help with answering the research questions. This Team Science facilitates the translational aspects of this work and means that research can be approached from multiple angles.
What are your plans/aspirations after your PhD?
By the time I have completed my MB-PhD, I hope to have analysed the samples from up to 60 patients. I would like to go on to publish a paper from my findings before I then return to my medical degree. In the future, I would like to work as a clinician and specialise in oncology. For now, however, I want to continue working in cancer research alongside my training and see what research opportunities come my way.
The MB-PhD training route enables aspiring clinician scientists to undertake the vocational training of a medical degree in tandem with the research expertise of a PhD in Cancer Sciences.
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