Research scholarship from icare looks at the impact of lung cancer treatments

Joel Kidman, through his research, aims to understand the dynamics of the immune system that may lead to positive outcomes in cancer immunotherapy.

research scholarship recipient Joel in a lab smiling at the camera

Joel Kidman, PhD candidate and recipient of a icare research scholarship.

From an early age, Joel was inquisitive and curious to learn how things work. He would spend a lot of time with his grandparents, always helping to make their lives easier. This was a key influence which led him into research.

Joel's research also focuses on minimising harm for cancer patients receiving treatment.

“There is so much yet to learn about what happens to patients when given cancer drugs. As soon as we figure out how to minimise harmful side effects caused by treatment, we can minimise the harm and improve the quality of life for patients whilst they receive treatment” said Joel.

Joel studied Laboratory Medicine at Perth’s Curtin University. He then worked in immunology labs and as a research data manager at the Clinical Cancer Centre in Perth. He met many cancer patients at the centre where he began to understand the side effects of cancer treatments and their impact on patients’ wellbeing. Joel is now completing his PhD at the National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases, which is part of the University of Western Australia.

“Through my studies, I became aware that there is a lot that we don’t know about the immune system, internal pathways and cells. We know the least about cancer and treatments. Driven by my annoyance that we don’t know as much as we should, I wanted to pursue a career in research to add to the sphere of knowledge”, he said.

What's next for Joel?

Joel spends quite some time in his lab, studying mice who have mesothelioma (an invasive cancer typically found on the lining of the lungs) and testing the various ways their immune system responds to treatment. He looks for patterns in specific immune cells to determine the effects of the medication. This method has been used on various cancers but is a very new application for mesothelioma. The main cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure.

The next steps for Joel’s research involves more programming, reviewing research and managing big data sets on his super computer.

“I’ll be spending a lot of time in the lab collecting and analysing samples of white blood cells and translating these findings to humans. This will help us understand the impact of cancer treatment on patients and reduce unwanted side effects.  It’s very exciting,”  said Joel.

The Dust Diseases Board has been funding research since 1983. Since becoming part of icare in 2015, the focus has expanded to building the capacity of upcoming researchers in the ongoing pursuit of excellence in research.The Dust Diseases Board approves up to $400,000 annually for scholarships and fellowships. Joel Kidman, PhD candidate, University of Western Australia, is one of the successful recipients of the scholarship grant.

The research funding aims to reduce the risk of people developing dust diseases and to optimise health and care outcomes for people with a dust disease and their families.

 

Dust Diseases Board research grants program