This article was submitted by Joseph Pegler, a PhD researcher in the School of Biological Sciences and NUPSA’s Research Representative. You can contact Joseph here.
Dr Matt Dun is a former PhD student and current research academic at the University of Newcastle (and Hunter Medical Research Institute). Dr Dun’s medical research examines the molecular factors that drive aggressive types of cancer, to assist in the development of treatments that both increase patient survival, while attempting to eliminate cancers such as leukaemia, bowel, breast and prostate cancers. While Dr Dun’s research is successful and renowned on a global scale, his work is quite clearly founded on a deep-seated determination to help those around him.
His research became even more personal on February 17, 2018, when Dr Dun’s then two-year-old daughter, Josephine, was diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), an inoperable form of cancer that develops on the brain stem. Less than 1% of patients with DIPG live five years from diagnosis, with an average survival time of just nine months.
In the time since Josephine’s diagnosis, she too has shown she is full of determination and resilience, already undergoing multiple surgeries and thirty doses of radiation therapy, among many other invasive and trying medical procedures. Experiencing firsthand the devastating impact of DIPG, Dr Dun expanded the focus of his cancer research to identify new drug therapies that would improve the survival of patients suffering from this illness.
If you would like to learn more about the groundbreaking trials Dr Dun is conducting into DIPG at the University of Newcastle and HMRI, you can read about them here.
In addition to the development of this DIPG research program, Dr Dun founded RUN DIPG, a charitable organisation whose mission is to raise awareness and critical funds to improve survival rates of patients diagnosed with DIPG. They do this by hosting various fundraising events, charity runs and festivals.
If you would like to learn more about the amazing work being done by RUN DIPG or you would like to volunteer, host a fundraiser or donate, check out their website here.
As a current research PhD student, I find Dr Dun’s incredible dedication to his research and passion to help people around him inspiring. I believe these are traits that should be admired and emulated – not only in day-to-day research, but in day-to-day life. Further, I hope that with the combined efforts of all those working within the DIPG research program and those who volunteer with RUN DIPG, the awful statistics that accompany a DIPG diagnosis will be drastically improved for sufferers such as Josephine and their families.