Dr Hannah Rose Wardill
Imagine if you had to plan your life around uncontrollable, unpredictable and unbearable bouts of diarrhoea... sounds pretty awful. My research tackles the causes, detection, prediction and prevention of diarrhoea. I started off my career in poo in 2013, enrolling in a PhD at the University of Adelaide, where I studied the development of diarrhoea caused by chemotherapy treatment for cancer. This was when I realised my ... unconventional ... love for the gut and its contents, and found great satisfaction in improving the quality of life for people living with or beyond cancer.
After finishing my PhD, I moved to the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, working as a postdoctoral scientist in an inflammatory bowel disease laboratory. Here I was able to hone my skills in intestinal physiology, mucosal immunology and gastroenterology, and was lucky enough to work alongside some incredible gastroenterologists conducting the one of the first randomised clinical trials investigating Faecal Microbiota Transfer (FMT) for Ulcerative Colitis. While I loved my time in this new lab, I felt a strong pull back to my original research field focused on the wellbeing of people affected by cancer. So I decided to apply the new skillset I had developed in gastroenterology and applied it to improve the way in which we care for people with cancer.
In 2018, I relocated to the Netherlands to undertake postdoctoral training in supportive cancer care. It was here I began to understand that the gut microbiome controls much more than just diarrhoea! So I began to broaden the scope of my work, and tease apart how the gut contributes to other side effects like cognitive impairment ("brain fog"), graft versus host disease, infection and pain. I returned to Australia in 2020, and established my group at the University of Adelaide (the Supportive Oncology Research Group). We are multidisciplinary and highly translational, collaborating with a range of stakeholders and consumers to identify and address the emerging and often complex challenges faced by people with cancer. Our goal is to deliver the evidence that is needed to ensure that Australia's growing population of people affected by cancer don't just survive, but they survive well, free from physical and psychosocial consequences of their cancer treatment.