When Anne Marie Baird was 16 years old, her grandfather died of cancer. The teenager from Donegal County in Northwest Ireland decided then she might want to go into medicine. She studied biochemistry and molecular biology at the Dublin Institute of Technology and went on to get her Ph.D. in Cancer Research from Trinity College in Dublin. It was during her research into inflammatory mediators that her aunt died of lung cancer.
“It made it much more personal,” Baird says. “I had quite a sense of purpose going to lab each day.”
Baird says personal tragedy is not her only motivation. She loves research, but understands that the work she’s doing can also have a human impact. Her current post-doctoral work is studying the receptors in inflammation in lung cancer. It was for that proposal, “RON receptor tyrosine kinase as a potential translational therapeutic target in malignant pleural mesothelioma,” she was awarded the IASLC Fellowship Award.
“I’m absolutely excited and delighted to get such an award,” she says.
Baird’s project comes out of the resistance to standard platinum based chemotherapy and certain targeted agents. She will study the role of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-ҡB) in chemotherapy resistance, using the specific chemotherapy drug cisplatin. She’ll compare the gene and protein patterns between cisplatin sensitive and resistant cell lines.
The 2-year $80,000 grant will also allow her to use DHMEQ, a NF-ҡB inhibitor to assess its effect in cisplatin sensitive and resistant cell lines. She’ll also evaluate the synergistic effects of DHMEQ and cisplaitn in vitro on a panel of cell lines and in vivo on mice.
“The impact of this research could greatly increase positive treatment outcomes for patients by increasing survival time and may provide an effective interventional strategy to aid lung cancer control,” she says.
Dr. Kathy Gately, clinical scientist and lecturer at Trinity College Dublin, has worked with Baird for seven years.
“I have witnessed Dr. Baird’s motivation, enthusiasm and steadfast dedication to her research. Her hard work and determination has allowed her to achieve her goals and become a confident and successful researcher,” Gately says. “I am confident she will achieve all the goals set out in the project proposal and more.”