Champions for Children: Meet Stacie Wang

Dr Stacie Wang is a paediatric oncologist at the Children’s Cancer Centre in The Royal Children’s Hospital.

The Good Friday Appeal proudly supports her CAR-T cell therapy research. To recognise her work in the lead up to the appeal, we spoke to Stacie about what it’s like to work with children dealing with cancer.

Tell us about yourself and the work you do.
I’m a paediatric oncologist at the Children’s Cancer Centre, The Royal Children’s Hospital.
I grew up in Singapore, then Adelaide and moved to Melbourne for my medical studies at the University of Melbourne, obtaining my MBBS/BMedSci in 2009. I undertook basic paediatric training at the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) and Monash Children’s hospital before completing my fellowship in training in paediatric oncology at the RCH.

During my fellowship, I cultivated a keen interest in immunotherapy. I became very interested in the concept of harnessing a patient’s immune system to fight their cancer. I undertook a PhD in immunotherapy at the Walter and Eliza Hall in 2018 and aim to become an active translational researcher and clinician-scientist.

What is CAR-T cell therapy, and why did you choose to research it?
Chimeric Antigen Receptor T (CAR-T) cell therapy is a branch of immunotherapy that engineers a patient’s T cells to recognise and kill the cancer cells in their body. CAR-T therapy has been extremely successful in a subset of patients with relapsed or hard to treat leukaemia.
Immunotherapy is a fascinating area to work in. It has the potential to become a revolutionary ‘fourth pillar’ of cancer therapy, alongside proven methods such as surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

What does a typical day at work look like?
A typical day at work might include seeing patients in day oncology receiving outpatient chemotherapy, teaching and attending various multidisciplinary meetings. I also see inpatients on ward rounds, we also collaborate with overseas hospitals on clinical trials and novel therapies. I also attend meetings at the Jenkins lab, an immunotherapy laboratory at the Walter and Eliza Hall Medical Research Institute.

What inspires you?
My patients are my greatest inspiration. I’ve always felt it is so unfair that some of our youngest, most vulnerable children have to go through something as hard as cancer therapy. I hope that we have a tailor-made cure for each child one day.

If you’d like to donate to the Good Friday Appeal, you can donate online, any time, at www.goodfridayappeal.com.au/donate/

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