Building on her experience in cytoskeletal biology and advanced imaging approaches, Sharissa’s research aims to develop novel therapeutic approaches that target actin-microtubule crosstalk for the treatment of triple negative breast cancers.
Your area of cancer research
My research primarily focuses on triple negative breast cancers and childhood neuroblastoma.
How long have you had consumer representatives involved with your cancer research?
I have had the extreme privilege of working closely with three consumer representatives since making the transition to cancer research in November 2018.
What is the most positive outcome for you of having a consumer representative work with you on your research?
I have found that my communication skills and the way in which I convey my research in everyday language has significantly improved through my work with these consumers.
What are some of the challenges that you have faced working with a consumer representative?
To be honest – there really haven’t been any!
Perhaps one challenge has been physical distance in limiting our interactions. However, video communication platforms such as Zoom have made it so much easier to catch up on a regular basis and I’ve been really fortunate that the consumers I’ve worked with have also been willing to make the journey to visit my lab and engage with my research group.
How has the consumer representative been able to help you with your project?
I’ve found that our discussions have been extremely fruitful in helping me articulate my ideas and gain clarity around which aspects of my project need further development or explanation. Beyond their input on individual projects, their advice and perspectives on cancer have been invaluable for how I write my funding applications and give presentations to lay audiences.
What do you know now that you would like to have known at the beginning of your involvement with consumers?
Offering the consumer a chance to visit the lab and meet the team is invaluable and a great way to kick-off the working relationship!
If you could say one thing to a new researcher about working with consumers, what would it be?
Jump at the opportunity and make the time to establish long lasting working relationships with the consumers. The personal experiences, training and input that consumers bring is invaluable and fostering these relationships will strengthen your projects and applications.
If you could say one thing to a new consumer representative, what would it be?
Don’t hesitate to be curious, share your thoughts and concerns, and ask lots of questions!