Seeing people in his homeland die of cancer without proper treatment is motivating Dr. Muhammad Shiddiky in his research at The University of Queensland’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology.
Dr. Shiddiky has received a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) from the Australian Research Council, which will fund his continued work on technology to detect immature tumor cells.
The 30-year-old analytical chemist from St Lucia knows the importance of the early detection of cancer, growing up in Bangladesh – where most people cannot afford healthcare.
In fact, Dr. Shiddiky’s sister-in-law has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and now has the challenge of paying for treatment.
“I have witnessed many cases where people die without proper treatment because of the high costs involved,” Dr. Shiddiky said.
“Now that my sister-in-law has been diagnosed with breast cancer, I am again witnessing the tragic impacts on an otherwise happy family.
“I have to do something. Research in this area gives me that chance to do something. I hope it won’t be too far until the day we get a portable diagnostic device for less than $1.”
Dr. Shiddiky has been working on developing a microfluidic device for sensitive detection of tumor cells.
Incorporated with a three-dimensional micro-structured electrode ensemble, the device has the ability to capture rare cells and proteins and detect metastasized diseases in an early stage.
“It is something that has enormous potential. It is a great opportunity to make a difference in the community and in healthcare. It means a lot to me. It motivates me to keep working hard,” Dr. Shiddiky said.
“We need to keep refining the technology. We need to demonstrate that it is effective, accurate and can be manufactured around the world so it attracts interest from industry,” he said.
Dr. Shiddiky will use the funding to develop the technology, attend international symposia and establish closer links with leaders in the field.
The new DECRA scheme is a separate element of the ARC Discovery program, providing more focused support and creating more opportunities for early-career researchers.