“The biggest discoveries come from basic biological research”
When Rebecca Delconte was a science student at university, her aunty died from cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.
“It was a very hard time for me, but it made me realise I wanted to work in cancer research with a focus on leukaemia or lymphoma.
“I wasn’t eligible for a government-funded PhD so I applied to the Leukaemia Foundation and I’m very thankful to have been successful in receiving that scholarship,” said Rebecca.
“I wouldn’t have done this research and it might not have happened if the Leukaemia Foundation hadn’t funded me.”
But being a basic science researcher is hard sometimes, she said.
“What you are doing in the lab can feel so minute, so small, but from my PhD I learnt that this is how the next big findings are made.
“You can’t have translational research without the core basic biological understanding behind all the different immune cells and immunotherapy.
“And I’ve been lucky enough to see that basic biological finding go to the translational phase. That is super rare. That doesn’t happen every day, so that’s inspired me more.”
Last month (October 2018) Rebecca married her musician fiancé in Italy and in mid-2019 she starts a post-doctoral position at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in the U.S.
“I’m going to New York to continue working on NK cells in AML – looking at different pathways and continuing to work at that basic biological level because that’s where I think the biggest discoveries are still yet to be made.
“For me, the most amazing thing that could happen, is for something I am a part of discovering to end up in the clinic to help treat AML or any leukaemia patient.”