Amanda (right) is a proud mum of two extraordinary sons, Alex (Al) and Dylan (Dyl), both of whom are in their early thirties. When they were much smaller she inter-railed around Europe with them, and since then they have taken some amazing holidays together over the years. Their common interests are travel, board games, and above all a love of music and snooker. Their mantra, for want of a better word, is to encourage gifts at birthdays and Christmas that result in life experiences that they will always remember rather than monetary ‘object’ presents that one can regrettably forget over time. Amanda is also a very keen gardener and enjoys watching the resident robin and its mate hoof into an al fresco nematode salade, made visible as she turns and weeds the soil.
Amanda is a cancer biologist in the UCD School of Medicine and a Fellow in UCD Conway Institute. She leads the Patient Voice in Cancer Research, an initiative to empower people affected by cancer to become involved in shaping and informing cancer research carried out by scientists and clinicians.
As a researcher, Amanda’s work is focused on triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), which is a cancer that has the ability to quickly move and spread around the body, which makes it difficult to treat. Unfortunately, chemotherapy has not been shown to improve overall survival in women with TNBC, as no specific treatment has been identified. Currently, there is also no test available to identify patients with TNBC who are likely to respond to chemotherapy from those who will not, or to identify patients with TBNC whose disease is likely to spread or not. Amanda’s research investigates things called extracellular vesicles, which are released by all cell types into the blood stream. It is thought that these extracellular vesicles contain unique messages, or blueprints, that are telling the cancer to move and spread, and to stop responding to treatment. Understanding these messages has the potential to help us make better treatment choices for TNBC patients in the future. Amanda and her team are therefore trying to decipher these messages.