Dr Chiara Braconi of the Division of Cancer Therapeutics at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, has been shortlisted for a prestigious award for women in science for her work on pancreatic cancer.
Dr Braconi is one of eight candidates shortlisted from around 300 entries for the L’Oréal-UNESCO Fellowships for Women in Science, which aims to support award winners in their research careers. On 19 June, Dr Braconi will face an interview panel of seven imminent international judges, who will decide the four shortlisted candidates to be awarded the fellowships. Each provides £15,000 flexible financial aid for the winner to support her in her research and career advancement - for example for conference attendance, professional membership and childcare support.
Dr Braconi joined the ICR in January 2014 and has previously won many esteemed awards for her research, including the EliLilly Foundation Merit Award, ASCO Cancer Foundation Merit Award, and AACR Women in Cancer Research award.
Her current research aims to determine which patients are most suited to receive a treatment regime for pancreatic cancer, FOLFIRINOX, which combines several chemotherapeutic treatments in one.
The FOLFIRINOX regime is effective at shrinking tumours and prolonging life expectancy, but it is particularly toxic and is only effective in 40-50% those who take it.
Dr Braconi’s research aims to investigate the differences in patients’ responses, and to look for biomarkers which we could use to identify those patients most likely to benefit, allowing doctors to make more informed decisions about treatment options.
Dr Braconi is looking at microRNAs – small elements of the genome which can be found circulating in the blood. Dr Braconi will map these microRNAs in pancreatic cancer patients treated with FOLFIRINOX, looking for any that correlate with sensitivity to the FOLFIRINOX treatment.
Dr Braconi said: “The ICR has strongly supported me in my application. In my time here I have found the ICR to be committed to address gender inequalities and to promote sustainable academic careers for women, for example by investing in childcare facilities on campus and supporting flexible working.
“I am honoured to have been shortlisted for this prestigious award. The other candidates are all excellent scientists and set the bar very high for the final stage of the competition.”
The ICR currently holds a bronze Athena SWAN award, which recognises good practice in promoting women in science in higher education and research careers.