Vanessa keen to delve deeper

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By Mick Jensen

Fresh from hearing the news that she has been awarded her doctorate, Methven-raised scientist Vanessa Lattimore is keen to delve deeper into the world of genetics.

The former Methven Primary School and Mount Hutt College student loves learning and health science is her chosen field.

She is involved with The New Zealand Familial Breast Cancer Study which aims to get a better understanding of the DNA sequence changes in genes that alter the risk of developing breast cancer.

The University of Otago, Christchurch, study uses cutting-edge research with cancer experts from around the world and is led by Dr Logan Walker, a member of the Mackenzie Cancer Research Group.

Vanessa Lattimore’s PhD was supervised by Dr Walker and fellow group members Dr Margaret Currie and Professor Bridget Robinson.

“I actually finished my thesis on the genetics of breast cancer a year ago, but only found out last week that I had been awarded my doctorate,” Vanessa said.

“I wanted to do post-graduate study in genetics and especially in the field of health so that my work could help people,” she said.

She had one more year left of her initial two-year study role with the Mackenzie Cancer Research Group and hoped to continue working in similar research.

“There is simply so much we don’t know. I’d love to stay in genetics and I’d love to stay in breast cancer research.”

Vanessa and her three PhD supervisors were among the academics speaking at a recent public meeting in Ashburton on the developments in cancer research.

The meeting included information on a number of subjects including randomized trials in medicine, immunotherapy and the Cancer Society Tissue Bank.

Vanessa spoke about enrolments for her study, how the information was used and how it helped with “understanding the genetics of breast cancer in New Zealand”.

Vanessa has enjoyed eight years of under-graduate and graduate studies and has a career in academia planned.