Studying the genes for breast cancer

Julian Fang

Studying the genetic variations that predispose individuals to breast cancer has been thefuel for study for Honours student Julian Fang from Arundel.

The Bachelor of Biomedical Science student is currently in his third year of the honoursaccelerated program, meaning that he can complete his degree with honours in just threeyears rather than the usual four.

Having just completed his 20,000 word thesis ‘An association study of polymorphisms inthe IL13, TCF7L2, SULF1, DUSP13 and GPC3 genes and breast cancer,’ Julian says heis looking forward to the day when it may be possible to do a quick blood test to test anindividual for their genetic susceptibility to breast cancer.

“I had great teachers at high school which fostered my interest in science, so it’s reallyexciting to now be studying how different genetic variations of individuals could lead toaltered risk of developing breast cancer. In the future, this work may lead to newdevelopments in the research and treatment targets of breast cancer,” he says.

Honours on a part-time basis

Putting himself under pressure to complete his undergraduate program in a shortertimeframe has so far paid off for Julian, with the honours component being completed ona part-time basis during the second and third years of his study.

“I always love to challenge myself and keep myself busy. The opportunity to join theGriffith Honours College was a goal I worked towards in my first year of study because ofthe opportunities available for members” says Julian.

Designed for outstanding students, the Griffith Honours College provides students withenriching experiences in combination with undergraduate degree studies.

Having never travelled overseas on his own before, Julian was also given the chance togo on a study exchange to the UK where he completed a semester of his degree atLeeds University.

“That was really one of the best decisions I have ever made as it allowed me toexperience the culture of other universities and network with other like-minded people inmy particular study area.

“During my first year in the Honours College, I was fortunate enough to travel toCambodia on a trip organised by Griffith Honours College through ENACTUS, anorganisation which aims to change the world by making a difference in our localcommunity through student-run community engagement projects.

“There, we built a house for a widower looking after five children. Unfortunately, thisfamily lived in extremely primitive conditions but with the assistance of some Cambodian
builders, we managed to construct a new house for the family in which they could live.”

Now weighing up his career choices, Julian says he is looking at options includingmedicine and research whilst keeping an interest in possible business pursuits.

“I am excited about where the program is taking me and my development over the threeyears. It’s a competitive world out there, so acquiring this depth of knowledge helps to
gain an edge and opens up opportunities, especially in the medical and healthcare world.

“I am thankful that Griffith has provided me with so many opportunities and so muchexperience in just three years.”