Adithya (Adi) Balasubramanian (Class of 2006)

2022 Foundation Scholarship Winner

Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer related death globally, with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) the most common subtype. Historically, most patients die within one year of diagnosis. Recently, advances in treatment designed to unleash the brakes on the immune system (‘immunotherapy’) have resulted in significantly improved long-term survival for some patients. However, only a minority of patients benefit from existing immunotherapy strategies. Patients without a history of smoking benefit the least.

An approach used by tumour cells to escape the immune system is to silence signals that mediate their recognition by immune cells. Regulation of these escape mechanisms appears to be different between ‘never smoker’ and ‘ever smoker’ NSCLC patients. We hypothesise that reactivating these signals could improve response to immunotherapy. My PhD aims to aims to identify pathways involved in the regulation of these tumourspecific recognition signals using CRISPRCas9 gene editing technology. Targeting these pathways with novel or repurposed drugs may enable immunotherapy to work for patients with otherwise limited treatment options.

About the Foundation Scholarship

The Mentone Grammar Foundation provides the opportunity for Mentonians to apply for a grant of up to $15,000 to assist with the pursuit of Doctoral studies. The Mentonians Association and broader Mentone Grammar Community proudly supports our students to continue to ‘dream big’, long after they leave school.