MIMR-PHI Institute of Medical Research
The treatment for most postmenopausal women who have breast cancer is to stop the production of the hormone oestrogen in the breast. The drugs slow tumour growth, but also stop oestrogen production throughout the body, where it’s required in many places. As a result, patients can experience bad side effects, including bone loss.
Dr Kevin Knower, Senior Research Officer at the Cancer Drug Discovery Laboratory at Melbourne’s MIMR-PHI Institute of Medical Research, is currently investigating alternative means of stopping oestrogen production, so that effects of the treatment can be confined to the breast. In 2012, Kevin’s work in this field was recognised at the 15th World Congress of Gynecological Endocrinology in Florence, Italy, where, as a recipient of a Young Investigator Award, he was invited to give a plenary symposium on his findings.
Kevin's current work is focused on cells directly adjoining breast tumours. These “stromal cells” have proteins that can block oestrogen production on their own and may provide a link to more targeted and effective treatment. Kevin also aims to continue acting as a mentor to postgraduate students and junior researchers.
Most people know someone who’s lost a friend or family member to breast cancer, says Kevin. He was drawn to this area of research after he’d completed his PhD at Monash in 2006. The following year, he joined the Cancer Drug Discovery laboratory at Prince Henry’s Institute as a postdoctoral researcher, and in 2009 received an international fellowship from the US Department of Defense’s Breast Cancer Training Program.
Meanwhile, Kevin has been inspired by collaborations with national and international scientists, including Dr Sarah To, whom he supervised throughout her PhD studies and who recently received a National Health and Medical Research Council Fellowship.
When he’s not in his lab, Kevin enjoys dining out with his wife and friends, or watching or playing “any kind of” sport. He also runs a DJ business, Insatiable Nights, which caters for functions in Melbourne. His life’s motto: try to see a funny side to everything.
The Can Too Foundation is proud to support this research through beneficiary Cure Cancer Australia.
“I was honoured and excited to have my research funded by Cure Cancer,” he says. “Unlike other foundations, Cure Cancer is very hands-on and interactive with researchers. This gives me a great opportunity to showcase my own research and to network and collaborate with other researchers and patient advocates. By funding young researchers, Cure Cancer provides a fantastic platform for career development and research independence.”