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Appointment in molecular cancer therapeutics

Personalised treatments for cancer sufferers have moved a step closer with the appointment of Dr Jeanette Kunz as a Senior Research Fellow in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics at The University of Auckland.

The new position at the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre (ACSRC) has been created with the generous support of philanthropist Owen Glenn.

As gene scanning becomes cheaper and faster and researchers gain a deeper understanding of the role of genomics (or individual genetic make-ups) in the development and treatment of diseases, new possibilities are opening up for targeted drug design and delivery.

Dr Kunz’s work will focus on the mechanisms by which cancer cells spread from the original tumour to other parts of the body. Under the direction of ACSRC Director Professor Bill Denny and with other members of the Centre, she will research therapies that target these processes.

“The appointment of a Senior Research Fellow in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics means that drug development at the University will be guided by the latest developments in this, as in other fields. The Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre is extremely grateful to Owen Glenn for his generosity,” says Professor Denny.

Owen Glenn says that with cancer being so prevalent he saw supporting this initiative as a practical way to help.

“My own family has been hard hit through cancer,” he says, “with both my late parents suffering, and currently my brother, so I am pleased to support the Centre, which has a hard earned reputation for getting results and for making discoveries that give hope to cancer sufferers.”

Dr Kunz received her initial research training in Switzerland. After completing her PhD thesis, she took up a postdoctoral position in Pharmacology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she developed specialist interests in mechanisms of cancer spread. She was subsequently appointed as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.

The ACSRC, managed jointly by The University of Auckland and Cancer Society Auckland, hosts more than 80 researchers and works closely with other cancer investigators in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences. Established in 1956, the ACSRC has discovered and developed 12 new cancer drugs which have gone into clinical trials around the world.

Dr Kunz will take up her Senior Research Fellowship early next year.

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