New conversations series to explore big questions and new frontiers

Fortnightly webinars will share the latest research discoveries and trends

New conversations series to explore big questions and new frontiers

University of Wollongong (UOW) will host a series of fortnightly webinars that will share ground-breaking ideas, debate perplexing challenges, and explore new horizons in health care, science and sustainability – the UOW Luminaries series.

The panel style discussions will bring together leading UOW researchers, industry experts and thought leaders for an hour each fortnight. The interdisciplinary series is designed to share how research and collaboration is tackling global challenges.

It will be open access and available to everyone via Zoom.

The series is a university-wide initiative. Professor David Currow, UOW’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Sustainable Futures) is excited about the conversations that it will generate.

“I want to encourage interdisciplinary cooperation and coordination across research sectors, and across UOWs global and domestic campuses. Through this series we’ll see some of the brightest minds from across the globe sharing ideas and planting the seeds of further conversations,” Professor Currow said.

In the first session, which will be held on 23 February, a panel of leading researchers and PhD candidates will explore new therapies in treatment of pancreatic cancer, the eighth most common cancer in Australia with one of the lowest survival rates.

Conventional cancer treatments have been largely ineffective in treating pancreatic cancer, and most patients are ineligible for life-saving surgery. Late-stage diagnosis and resistance to conventional treatments means the five-year survival rate is less than 15 per cent. Innovative treatment options are needed.

Panellists for the first session include:

  • Elahe Minaei, a second-year PhD student working in the Targeted Cancer Therapeutics Research Laboratory. She completed her master’s degree in Immunology in 2014 and worked as a full-time research assistant at Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute at UOW from 2014-2021. In her PhD project, she is developing an all-in-one immunotherapy and chemotherapy implant for the localised treatment of inoperable pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.
  • Senior Professor Marie Ranson, who has longstanding research interests in molecular biomarkers of cancer invasion and metastasis. In particular, she has made substantial contributions to the plasminogen activation system field in cancer as well as in inflammatory diseases. Professor Ranson has also led and contributed to several successful drug development projects.
  • Dr Gary Tincknell, a medical oncologist specialising in upper gastrointestinal cancers including pancreatic cancers. He works at the Illawarra and Shoalhaven Cancer Care Centres. In addition to his clinical work, he is currently completing a PhD through UOW looking at clinical and molecular biomarkers of gastric and oesophageal cancers.
  • Associate Professor Kara Vine-Perrow, who established the Targeted Cancer Therapeutics Research Laboratory in the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute at UOW. Associate Professor Vine-Perrow’s research program is centered on understanding the mechanisms that drive chemotherapeutic drug resistance in cancer and the development of novel nanomedicines and polymer scaffolds for site-specific drug delivery.
  • Ashna Kumar, a third-year PhD candidate at UOW working with Senior Professor Marie Ranson and Associate Professor Kara Perrow. Her research involves better understanding the role of the urokinase plasminogen activation system in cancer, especially in promoting tumour progression and metastasis in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC).

Future Luminaries session will explore the future of nursing, maternal mental health and the biology of antenatal depression, rural health care challenges, injury prevention and mental health in sport, health informatics and the effective sharing and use of health information.

Event details

Luminaries: How UOW researchers are fighting pancreatic cancer

Date: Thursday 23 February, 4-5pm

Where: Online via Zoom.


Panelists: Senior Professor Marie Ranson, Associate Professor Kara Vine-Perrow, Dr Gary Tincknell, Elahe Minaei, Ashna Kumar

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