Bill Panagopoulos – Stopping breast cancer growth
Meet Bill Panagopoulos, a PhD student who is part of the Breast Cancer Research Unit (BCRU) at the Basil Hetzel Institute, led by Michell McGrath Breast Cancer Fellow Professor Andreas Evdokiou. As part of the BCRU, Bill is investigating the role of the immune system in angiogenesis (the growth of new blood vessels that tumours need to grow) and breast cancer tumour progression.
What does your research involve?
In the past I have undertaken research on Leukaemia, but solid tumours are my passion and coming to work as part of the Breast Cancer Research Unit at the Basil Hetzel Institute was a great step forward for me. The transition from working as a research assistant to taking on a PhD is a great step forward for our research as well as for me. The research we are doing is making a lot of progress and becoming much more exciting as it can be translated to clinical practice. Ultimately, If we can determine exactly how to stop immune cells from aiding the growth of breast cancer tumours it could lead to novel anti-angiogeneic therapies – treatments that can inhibit or eliminate the blood supply to the tumour, therefore blocking the pathway that the cells are using to travel to other areas of the body. We could use this treatment in combination with current/ modern treatments to completely eradicate the tumour.
To think that the project I am working on can one day go from the bench to the bedside and inevitably help the health and wellbeing of people is something that really drives me.
How long have you been involved in medical research?
I’ve been in research for more than 10 years now, ever since my undergraduate work which was medical and pharmaceutical biotechnology. From there I went into private biotech companies conducting research, trying to discover novel or new therapeutics. Then I came back into academia to focused my research. Both sides of research have their pros and cons but I find academia research is much of a driver. I’ve been at the Basil Hetzel Institute for over three years and it is an incredible facility. I’ve worked in a variety of labs and in both sides of the industry (private sector and academia) and the BHI is a world class institute and the work that is being done here is world class.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I spend time with my young son and my wife. It’s great going home after a full day and he’s just there smiling away at you. Every day is different with him, I love watching him grow. We are finishing renovations around our house so there is always something to do. I’m also restoring a classic car- I like to get my hands dirty and spend time out in the man cave.