Dr Kara Vine -Perrow and PhD candidate Samantha Wade.

Cancer researcher Dr Kara Vine-Perrow with PhD candidate Samantha Wade. Photo by L.J. Hayes.

ATA Scientific Instruments target drug delivery PhD candidate

PhD candidate Samantha Wade is striving to find a better way to treat pancreatic cancer, one of the most deadly forms of cancer in Australia.

Samantha’s dedication and talent recently caught the attention of ATA Scientific Instruments, who awarded her first prize in their 2018 Encouragement Awards. Established in 2011, the ATA Scientific Encouragement Awards aim to provide young scientists with financial assistance to further their education and attend scientific meetings and conferences.

Samantha Wade and Peter Davis

Peter Davis from ATA Scientific Instruments presents the 2018 Encouragement Award to Samantha Wade.

“We were impressed by the mix of science, humour and imagination Samantha captured in her entry, which is a great reflection of the talent of our young researchers,” states Theano Stafidas, Marketing Manager from ATA Scientific Instruments. “By recognising this talent, we hope to advance contributions that our scientists are making, whose research and skills will undoubtedly benefit everyone in years to come.”

Samantha plans to use the $1,500 award to help cover the costs of attending the Controlled Release Society Annual Meeting in Spain next year. She now has the opportunity to expand her global connections at a crucial time in her career.

“As I am in my final year of my PhD, I am starting to look for a postdoctoral position in an international laboratory. Attending this meeting will allow me to network with researchers and experts in the drug delivery field that I otherwise wouldn’t get to meet,” explains Samantha.

Under the supervision of Dr Kara Vine-Perrow, Samantha has been working on a project to create an implantable drug delivery system (DSS) for pancreatic cancer. Implantable DDSs contain one or more drugs and are placed around or inside the tumour to directly target the cancerous cells.

“Samantha has been investigating how encapsulating two chemotherapeutic drugs, gemcitabine and paclitaxel, influences the physical properties of the implant,” explains Dr Vine-Perrow.

“She has also been fine-tuning drug concentrations in order to achieve maximum pancreatic cancer cell death. Her work is important in ensuring the safety of the device and that the correct amount of drug is released at the appropriate time. This information is paramount for progressing our implant to clinical trial in the future.”

Samantha collaborates with researchers at the ARC Centre for Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES), including PhD candidate Sepehr Talebian and Dr Javad Foroughi, as well as clinician researcher and oncologist Clinical Professor Morteza Aghmesheh from the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District. 

Related stories

‘Uber’ drug delivery for cancer patients

Pancreatic cancer in Australia

  • About 2,600 Australians are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year.
  • The average age at diagnosis is 72.
  • Cigarette smokers are 2–3 times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer.
  • About 15–20% of people with pancreatic cancer have newly diagnosed diabetes.
  • People with family history of pancreatic, ovarian or colon cancer are at greater risk of getting pancreatic cancer.

Cancer Council NSW


Lyndel Hayes, Communications Coordinator

T: +61 2 4221 5432

E: lyndelhayes@ihmri.org.au

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