Choosing Maths to Fight Cancer

 In Blog Entry

Currently studying PhD in bioinformatics, Russul Alanni hopes to use maths to help cancer patients. Her research involves modelling gene mutations to increase understanding of cancer growth, survival time and recurrence in the hopes of improving treatment outcomes.

“Clinical application of machine learning approaches and biological data analysis is still open, as they are theories. My dream, however, is to develop an accurate prognosis model that can deliver clinical benefit,” says Russul.

With such big ambitions, Russul knows it is important to establish collaborative networks and engage with experienced mentors as early as possible. However, with husband Haseeb also pursuing a career in science and two boys to care for, this can seem like an out-of-reach luxury.

“With research a bit of a family business, it is often difficult to balance home and work commitments and, as is the case in many families, the sacrifices come back to me,” says Russul.

With the chance to expand their field expertise and network with global leaders at AMSI Winter School beckoning, the pair received a much-needed helping hand through the CHOOSEMATHS grant program. Covering childcare expenses, this funding meant both Russul and Haseeb could not only attend the event but engage fully with everything on offer.

“Both my husband and I wanted to be part of this opportunity, but with the need to cover childcare this seemed impossible. The CHOOSEMATHS grant meant I could also attend and be part of this exciting conversation, “ she said.

Seeking answers to questions not covered in her textbooks and studies, it was also a chance for Russul to deepen her field knowledge and seek out new tools to aid her quest against cancer. For Russul the true value of the grant as an access pathway was immeasurable.

“So often for women in particular, additional networking and training seems like an unattainable luxury. This grant meant I had access to expert knowledge and new tools and techniques at the cutting-edge of my field. This is invaluable as an establishing researcher in a male dominated and hugely competitive field,” says Russul.

A step closer to her dream, Russul now plans to build on her newly expanded networks as she draws on her Winter School experience as she makes cancer treatment add up for patients.

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