Rashi Krishna on identifying drug response biomarkers in uterine cancer

Rashi is a PhD student in Dr Ailith Ewing's group at the Institute of Genetics and Cancer and talks about her project using whole genome sequencing datasets to better understand the genomic landscape of uterine cancer and the importance of working in a supportive environment.

Please tell us about your research project and how your work involves genomics, or makes use of genomic technologies.

My project is designed to identify drug response biomarkers in uterine leiomyosarcoma. Uterine leiomyosarcoma is rare but lethal with limited treatment options available. Increasing studies have shown that PARP inhibitors work well in models and patients of uterine leiomyosarcoma. I am hoping to characterise uterine leiomyosarcoma’s genomic landscape by analysing publicly available whole genome sequencing datasets from patient samples to better understand which subset of patients would benefit from PARP inhibitor treatment. Additionally, by understanding the genomic landscape better, I also hope to identify other drugs (e.g. DNA damage repair agents) that can work in patient groups that do not respond to PARP inhibitors. I also plan to validate the genomic findings in the lab using drug sensitivity studies and sequencing. Overall, the long-term aim is to use available genomic data (and potentially generate new ones) to help tailor treatment for uterine leiomyosarcoma patients.

Rashi Krishna by a loch

Please summarise your previous work and career so far.

I completed my undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences at Newcastle University. I really enjoyed my final year project and decided to spend the following summer looking into biomarkers for endometrial cancer. Uncertain about what I wanted to do next but certain about my passion for research, I pursued a Master of Research in Cancer at Newcastle University where I investigated the role sugars (glycans) play in prostate cancer metastasis.

What inspired you to follow your career path?

My career path is a result of “going with the flow.” Be it my interests or opportunities, pursuing them has led me to where I am today. Apart from that, the people that I worked with during my undergraduate and master’s projects have no doubt helped me grow my passion for research over time.

Rashi Krishna by the sea

If you could have tea with anyone (alive or dead), who would it be? What would you talk about?

I would like to meet Jonny Kim, a Navy SEAL, doctor, aviator and astronaut. I would like to know more about why and how he pivoted between multiple (drastically different) careers.  

What is the most unusual thing you have done during your career?

Nothing unusual (yet) but the most abrupt thing I have done in my career is to pursue my master’s degree! A decision I made on the spur of a moment.

Do you have any advice for people wanting to pursue a research career? What do you like best about your job? What do you like the least?

Try it! Unless you’ve had exposure, you will never know what truly interests you. And even more importantly, surround yourself with people that are nurturing and uplifting. Research is demanding in so many ways, it is who you work with and not what you work on that will often make or break it!  

My favourite aspect of this role is to be able to learn so many new things and knowing that the outputs of my learnings may (in the smallest possible way) be helpful to someone else (be it another scientist or a patient).

My least favourite aspect of this role is that although research is collaborative, sometimes it can be isolating.

How do you spend your time outside of research? Is there anything else you would like to tell us about?

You can find me trying out new recipes, exploring different parts of the city (or country) and trying out different dance/fitness classes.

Rashi Krishna by a river