Associate Professor and Head of Innate and Tumour Immunology lab, UNSW Sydney and Garvan Institute of Medical Research
Your area of cancer research?
Developing new cancer immunotherapies.
How long have you had consumer representatives involved with your cancer research?
Mara and I started working together 3 years ago. However, our laboratory has been working with consumer representatives for the last 5 years.
What is the most positive outcome for you of having a consumer representative work with you on your research?
As a scientist, I spend a lot of time thinking about experiments, and research can sometimes feel like trying to solve a complicated puzzle. But working with consumer representatives, and especially talking to Mara, who is a cancer survivor, always reminds me that we are racing against the clock to develop new treatments to stop people getting sick and dying from cancer.
What are some of the challenges that you have faced working with a consumer representative?
A lot of our work is focused on pre-clinical cancer immunology research. It took me some time to figure out how to communicate our research to consumer representatives in a way that’s straight forward and engaging for consumers.
How has the consumer representative been able to help you with your project?
Mara has been very understanding about the challenges of research and very willing to get involved and help us communicate our results and apply for funding. She has also helped us to design our research plan so that we can develop a treatment that would best suit patient needs and align with other clinical cancer therapies.
What do you know now that you would like to have known at the beginning of your involvement with consumers?
That there is no template for the best way to build your relationship with consumers. It will be different for each consumer.
If you could say one thing to a new researcher about working with consumers, what would it be?
You are starting a new relationship. With time and care, it will grow and add a new dimension your research.
If you could say one thing to a new consumer representative, what would it be?
We (the researchers) are very grateful for the opportunity to talk about our work and your time and feedback are always greatly appreciated.