Studying the genes for breast cancer

Julian Fang

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

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

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

“I had great teachers at high school which fostered my interest in science, so it’s really exciting to now be studying how different genetic variations of individuals could lead to altered risk of developing breast cancer. In the future, this work may lead to new developments 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 shorter timeframe has so far paid off for Julian, with the honours component being completed on a 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 the Griffith Honours College was a goal I worked towards in my first year of study because of the opportunities available for members” says Julian.

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

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

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

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

“There, we built a house for a widower looking after five children. Unfortunately, this family 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 including medicine 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 three years. 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 much experience in just three years.”