Posted: 03rd August 2020
Congratulations to former SVI PhD student Winnie Tan, who has been awarded the 2020 TJ Martin Medal.
Named in honour of former SVI Director, Professor Jack Martin, the medal is awarded annually for the best MD or PhD student thesis from the St Vincent’s campus submitted in the preceding year.
Winnie did her PhD in SVI’s Genome Stability Unit under the supervision of Associate Professor Andrew Deans. During her PhD, Winnie showed the means by which a protein called FANCD2 protects cells from developing mutations that might be cancerous, solving a 20-year mystery along the way.
It had been long known that FANCD2 was a key part of the vast and intertangled protein network that the cell uses to repair DNA damage, but its exact role was unclear.
Winnie showed that FANCD2 physically coated the length of DNA when it had been damaged, protecting it from further damage and helping to activate DNA repair processes.
Her findings have implications for understanding how cancer develops and are particularly relevant to a disease called Fanconi Anaemia, which can be caused by mutations in the FANCD2 protein, and is a focus of research in the lab. The results form the basis of Winnie’s PhD thesis, which was passed in February.
The newly minted doctor intends to remain in the lab at SVI, in order to bring her findings closer to helping people with Fanconi Anaemia. Well done Winnie!