A researcherai??i??s multidisciplinary background well-suited in her quest for optimal treatment response through radiation therapy

ai???Understanding how radiation affects cancer and healthy cells, or ai???radiobiologyai??i??, is a niche research area of cancer research with excellent potential for high societal, academic and economic impact in Ireland and abroad,ai??? said Laure Marignol of Trinity College Dublin (TCD), Ireland.

ai???My goals are focused on the development of a treatment decision tool to assist patients and clinicians in deciding whether radiation therapy is the best option for the management of their prostate cancer,ai??? she said.

Marignol, an Associate Professor in Radiobiology at TCDai??i??s Discipline of Radiation Therapy, is a distinguished researcher with unique multi-disciplinary profile and qualifications from four European universities.

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Laure Marignol

She received a double BSc in Radiation Sciences and Health Engineering from the University of Montpellier (France) and the Fachhochschule Giessen (Germany) with a Physics-related research thesis investigating quality assurance in brain stereotactic radiotherapy.

ai???In 2003, I graduated from University College London (UCL) with Distinction from the European MSc in Radiobiology having completed research thesis on the development of a radiation-responsive gene therapy system at the University of Ulster, Belfast. That year, I started my PhD at Trinity College Dublin investigating the development of a hypoxia-directed gene therapy strategy,ai??? she told AMOR press team in an exclusive interview.

For her work on tumour hypoxia and radiation response of prostate tumours, Marignol was honoured in 2009 as the recipient of the competitive St Lukeai??i??s Young Investigator Award of the Royal Irish Academy of Medicine.

Marignol soon joined the Discipline of Radiation Therapy at Trinity College Dublin in 2010 with a tenured appointment as an assistant professor. ai???Since my appointment at Trinity College Dublin, my ambition has been to create and develop an internationally-recognised radiobiology laboratory in Ireland,ai??? she said.

The opportunity arose when Marignol was appointed Head of Research of the Discipline of Radiation Therapy in 2011, when she drove the creation of the Applied Radiation Therapy Trinity (ARTT) research group. In 2013, within which she established and presently leads the Radiobiology and Molecular Oncology strand, rapidly building up an excellent publication track record with a significant number of first and last author papers, and mentored a number of PhD and MD candidates.

ai???The definition of tumour radiobiological IDs through the adaptation of state-of-the art interdisciplinary methodologies has the potential to improve our ability to predict treatment response and better inform optimal management of the disease.ai??? ai??i?? Marignol

Reminiscing about her careerai??i??s path, she said, ai???I was always interested in medicine, and started an undergraduate degree in health engineering. This degree offered a unique opportunity to study in Germany. Radiation science was one of the possible options and I was drawn to it.ai???

From there on, Marignol followed her opportunities. ai???I was offered an MSc projects and later a PhD in gene therapy, and I enjoyed this work. Throughout my doctoral training, I was asked to deliver radiobiology lectures and this later led to my appointment as Assistant Professor in the Discipline of Radiation Therapy,ai??? she recalled.

ai???So I didnai??i??t really choose this career,ai??? she said, coyly. ai???Rather, to some extend circumstances, opportunities and my interests in radiobiology brought me to where I am now.ai???

Looking back, Marignol acknowledged that a career as researcher comes with plenty of challenges.

ai???The key challenge is resilience,ai??? she noted. Marignol, who is also the treasurer of the Irish Radiation Research Society and an active member of both the European Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ESTRO) and USAai??i??s Radiation Research Society (RADRES), underscored: ai???You need to put yourself out there, take chances and accept the criticisms of your peers. You need to like challenges, changes and constant stimulation to do better.ai???

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Laure Marignol receiving St Lukeai??i??s Young Investigator Award from Dr Fenton Howell, President of Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland

She added, ai???This career is difficult to manage with a family, and strict time management is a must. It is difficult now to travel away.ai???

In addition, Marignol is an Editorial Board Member of the journal Advances in Modern Oncology Research (AMOR), and one of her papers was published in the recent December 2015 issue. The study entitled ai???Threshold-Based Parametric Analysis of Diffusion-Weighted Magnetic Resonance Imaging at 3.0 Tesla to Identify Men with Prostate Cancerai??i?? was co-authored with several other researchers from Trinity College Dublin.

ai???The study we published in AMOR was an interesting work which allowed us to get more insights into what molecular imaging (MRI) can do for prostate cancer patient and create a multi-disciplinary network,ai??? she explained, paying tribute to her multi-disciplinary background as the big influence on her work.

ai???I am currently looking at ways to apply this approach to improve the management of prostate cancer patients who are choosing radiation therapy,ai??? she said.

ai???My work identified early on the need to evaluate the hypoxic prostate tumours from a multi-disciplinary perspective: from the development of histopathological biomarkers to assist the examination of the impact of the identified feature on the efficacy of current treatment, the need to non-invasively assess this feature to facilitate patient monitoring (functional imaging), to acknowledging that this improved assessment can only impact on outcomes if associated with an alternative treatment approach,ai??? Marignol said.

Marignol is also currently working on a project, which received a research grant from the Irish Cancer Society in 2012. ai???My laboratory has developed isogenic models of radioresistant prostate cancer, but in particular is focused on the prognostic significance of miRNAs expression in prostate tumours treated with radiation therapy,ai??? she shared, adding that she has already established a unique Irish radiotherapy research cohort to support translation of her work into improved practice.

ai???I hope to continue to build my research to-date characterising the mechanisms of radioresistance of prostate cancer cells, their regulation by miRNAs and visualisation using functional imaging. In parallel, it is my intention to continue to recruit patients to my research cohort,ai??? she said.

Marignol remains truly passionate about the field of radiobiological research in which she has dedicated much of her career.

ai???I believe that the definition of tumour radiobiological IDs through the adaptation of state-of-the art interdisciplinary methodologies has the potential to improve our ability to predict treatment response and better inform optimal management of the disease,ai??? she concluded.

ai???I hope to continue to build my research to-date characterising the mechanisms of radioresistance of prostate cancer cells, their regulation by miRNAs and visualisation using functional imaging.ai??? ai??i?? Marignol