Dr Melanie McConnell
Genetics and Cancer
School of Biological Sciences
Phone: 04 463 5233 ext 8136
Location: Room 309, Alan MacDiarmid Building, Kelburn Campus
The primary focus of my research is to understand how cancer cells survive stress, and to apply this knowledge to the development of more effective cancer therapies.
Cancer cells have to survive free radicals, lack of oxygen, reduced nutrients, and changes in metabolism. During chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments of cancer patients, these cells are subjected to further stress, yet some survive and go on to cause relapse and metastasis. This is thought to be due to the presence of cancer stem cells, which are drug and radiation resistant.
My Cell Survival Research Group has established various methodologies including cell culture, human tumour culture, flow cytometry, real-time RT-PCR and immunofluorescence microscopy, to allow the identification of cancer stem cells and to characterise their function. We also use murine models of brain tumours, breast cancer and melanoma to study the different properties of cancer stem cells including self-renewal, therapy resistance and metastasis.
In other work my research group is looking at how cellular survival pathways can be used to best advantage in diseases where accelerated cell death is a major concern, such as motor neurone disease.
Visit my Cell Survival Group web page.