Dr Sudha Rao, Founding Scientist at EpiAxis Therapeutics, has revealed how the loss of her friend Melanie Swan to metastatic breast cancer inspired her to keep searching for new classes of drugs and non-invasive blood tests to improve immunotherapy and increase survival of cancer patients.

Dr Rao features in a QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute podcast to raise funds for its Christmas Appeal.

She discusses how her friend Mel was just 38 years old when she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. She fought the disease bravely until she passed away, leaving behind her loving family
and parents.

“Every day when I come to work I’m reminded of the amazing courage and determination that Melanie had and this gives my team an even greater purpose,” she said.

Dr Rao is a Professor and Group Leader of the Gene Regulation and Translational Medicine Laboratory at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Brisbane, Australia. Her work with EpiAxis has focused on the area of epigenetics, which seek to “reprogram” cancer cells back towards normal cell types.

“Shortly before Mel died, in fact it was the very last time we met at our usual spot at the café, I remember saying to her ‘You are here for a reason and without this we wouldn’t have met and my research wouldn’t have gathered the momentum it has’ and I thanked her for that,” Prof Rao recalls.

Listen to Dr Sudha Rao reflect on her inspirational friendship with Melanie in the podcast below:

Click here to donate to the QIMR Berghofer Christmas Appeal