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Ryan Duchatel

Research Program:
Research Topics:

Research Interests

  • Identifying new drug targets and drug resistance – By employing sophisticated investigation of proteins (proteomics) and activation proteins (phosphoproteomics) we can understand how cellular machinery of DIPG cells evades detection and gains resistance to current therapies.
  • The role of the blood-brain barrier in DIPG treatment – The blood-brain barrier is crucial to keeping us healthy and pathogen-free, but also prevents drugs from getting into the right areas of the brain. New drugs need to be assessed for blood-brain barrier penetrance to ensure they can do their job.

Why did you get into research?

Research is constantly pushing the frontiers of knowledge, and it’s inspiring to think that the theory, the process, or the discovery you make today may determine how things happen tomorrow.

I fell into biomedical research but was soon fascinated by the way the brain works. I then pivoted to look at blood cancers, and eventually, brain cancer in children. It was originally a case of being in the right place at the right time to work with some amazing researchers, now I can’t imagine doing anything else. Trying to solve the puzzle of DIPG is so challenging, but I only have to think of the demographic I am trying to help, and I have renewed motivation.

Why did you get into research?

Research is constantly pushing the frontiers of knowledge, and it’s inspiring to think that the theory, the process, or the discovery you make today may determine how things happen tomorrow.

I fell into biomedical research but was soon fascinated by the way the brain works. I then pivoted to look at blood cancers, and eventually, brain cancer in children. It was originally a case of being in the right place at the right time to work with some amazing researchers, now I can’t imagine doing anything else. Trying to solve the puzzle of DIPG is so challenging, but I only have to think of the demographic I am trying to help, and I have renewed motivation.

Biography

Dr Ryan John Duchatel is an Early Career Researcher, achieving his PhD in Experimental Pharmacology in November 2018. Through an examination of the neurobiology and immune and genetic fingerprints, his work contributed to the understanding of the development of schizophrenia, through alterations in neurodevelopment during pregnancy.

As a Post-Doctoral Fellow, Dr Duchatel has since transitioned to the Cancer Signalling Research Group (CSRG) of Dr Matthew Dun, based at the University of Newcastle, Hunter Medical Research Institute, joining a team of staff and students investigating the molecular mechanisms underpinning a rare and deadly form of paediatric brain cancer - ‘Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma’ or ‘DIPG’. Dr Duchatel was instrumental in Dr Dun’s establishment of University of Newcastle’s program of DIPG research in 2018. The group combines cellular and molecular biology techniques, in vitro and in vivo modelling utilising patient samples, coupled with high-resolution, quantitative proteomics.

Trained by world-leading DIPG researchers, Dr Duchatel is a specialist in DIPG neurosphere in vitro modelling. He leads the patient derived xenograft, in vivo DIPG modelling of the CSRG, necessary for translation of the group’s pre-clinical findings to the clinical trial setting.

Dr Duchatel’s current research project, in conjunction with field-leading collaborators, investigates new and improved treatment strategies to overcome the limitations of current investigative therapies for children with DIPG. Primarily focused on inhibitors of cell growth pathways controlled by ‘PI3K’ (Phosphoinositide 3-kinase), this work has led to the first, high-resolution, quantitative proteomic analysis of DIPG, and identified the compensatory signalling pathways activated in response to PI3K inhibition, which are now under investigation for clinical utility.

To further the reach and relevance of his research, Dr Duchatel engages with both the scientific and lay communities. He serves on the scientific advisory committee of the Hunter Cancer Biobank, Australia, and is a member of the Australian and New Zealand Children’s Haematology/Oncology Group (ANZCHOG).

Future Focus

Children are our next generation, the most vulnerable of our community – and brain cancer is unrelenting. Although DIPG is relatively rare, it still accounts for 20% of Australian kids lost to cancer.  By understanding the drivers of this disease, we aim to identify novel treatments that will improve the quality of life and lengthen the lifespan of patients living with DIPG.

Specialised/Technical Skills

  • Neurosphere cell culture
  • DIPG preclinical modelling
  • Proteomics and Phosphoprotemics

Affiliations

  • Cancer Signaling Research Group
  • Priority Centre for Cancer Research
  • Hunter Medical Research Institute
  • RUN DIPG