Q&A with Kerri Palmer, breast cancer researcher
Published on June 7, 2019
PhD student Kerri is working hard to find better ways to prevent breast cancer thanks to your generous donations. We caught up with her during our visit to Aberdeen to see how she’s getting on.
Why is your breast cancer research so important?
As one of the most common cancers worldwide, breast cancer is a major health issue. Despite vast amounts of research into treatments, the number of people diagnosed with breast cancer is still rising, and reliable strategies to prevent it are few and far between.
What excites me most about undertaking this PhD is that I am contributing to filling a ‘gap’ in breast cancer research – how we can prevent it. So this project has the potential to make a real impact, benefit many people potentially at risk of breast cancer and hopefully help to reduce the number of people suffering from this destructive disease.
Your research is completely animal free. Why is this crucial?
It is extremely important to me that research doesn’t involve animals. At present, sadly it is extremely rare to find projects that completely omit the use of animals but, in my opinion, it is the way forward for research.
If we can produce new animal free models, we can hopefully prevent animals suffering unnecessarily and also produce more reliable and effective models for both prevention and treatments of diseases. Much of the testing done on animals is difficult to translate into humans – our animal free models may lead to more accurate and potentially faster treatments.
What are you working on right now?
My aim is to determine whether or not exposure to certain chemicals could lead to breast cancer. The particular chemicals I’m studying are called endocrine disrupting agents, which are environmental chemicals that can interfere with the body’s hormone system. Currently I am working to determine the optimum concentrations of these chemicals through experiments that monitor the growth of human cells over time. This will then allow me to examine the effects of these damaging chemicals on cells within the breast.
Has anything shocked or surprised you so far?
Perhaps what is most surprising is that such small concentrations of the environmental chemicals demonstrate an effect. This tells us that something must be going on inside the cells when they are exposed to these chemicals. The chemicals are also found in small concentrations in the environment so there could be big implications for how we can prevent breast cancer.
Where do you like to be when you’re not working?
Competitive swimming – at county and regional level – is something I spend many weekends doing, but I am also a keen weightlifter and have just started running. Scotland is a great place for walking, so I hope to continue to explore this beautiful country while I’m here.
The final word…
I would like to say thank you very much to all Animal Free Research UK supporters. Your generosity means that we can continue to research animal free models with the aim of replacing animal experiments within scientific research.
You can read more our Kerri’s work here.