Dr. Nathalie Bock and Dr. Laura Bray (Queensland University of Technology) have submitted excellent nominations for The Queensland Women in STEM Prize.

The aim of the competition is to showcase inspiring early to mid-career females working in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) fields whose practice has the potential to benefit Queensland.

The Queensland Women in STEM Prize aims to identify individual female STEM professionals who are not only making a positive contribution to their field, but are also engaging with and communicating their practice to a broader community.

To read more about STEM prize, please visit the link.

Please support Dr Bock’s and Dr Bray’s research with your votes.

Cancer research: Now showing in 3D

(Dr. Laura Bray)


Bioengineered Human Models: A Novel Platform for Cancer Research

(Dr. Nathalie Bock)

In Queensland, one in two men and one in two women will develop cancer in their lifetime. Traditional methods for cancer research use cells grown on a two-dimensional surface, such as plastic or glass, which does not replicate human biology because humans are not two-dimensional. I am developing new three-dimensional technologies for cancer research, using cancer cells grown inside of a jelly-like material (a hydrogel). These three-dimensional models are like “mini-tissues”, that are able to provide a more realistic environment for researchers to study cancer. This research will benefit Queensland by placing it at the forefront of cutting-edge cancer research technologies, and by providing a new method for drug companies to test new cancer treatments. This could lead to a greater speed to market, greater drug accuracy in humans, and will reduce drug testing in animals. These three-dimensional “mini-tissues” open the way for a new generation of cancer research. Nowadays, despite successful pre-clinical testing in animal models, 80 to 90% of novel drugs still fail in the clinic. Cancer in particular is a complex disease with strong interactions with its microenvironment. Hence, it is critical to replicate and study the human microenvironment, in order to find effective cures. In my early career research work, I am addressing this issue by using bioengineering to develop advanced human 3D models. I focus on prostate cancer disseminated to the bones, an incurable stage of the disease. By using a ‘humanised’ platform, we are able to assess more accurately the effects of current and novel therapies. We are further using our platform with prostate tumour tissues from patients directly, in order to study the predisposition of specific patients to relapse with advanced disease at a later stage. Our pre-clinical setting is unique to Australia, providing unprecedented opportunities for personalised medicine for Queensland men.