17 Jan 2020

First year PhD student, Afolabi Akanbi, is the newest member of the GMRF Liver Research Unit. He has hit the ground running with an innovative research project targeting excess iron in fatty liver disease.

What’s your research background and interest?

I had just finished my Masters in Biomedical Engineering at the University of New South Wales and I was passionate about going into cancer research. I saw that the main way of treating cancer was with chemotherapy, but that there was exciting developments in immunotherapy research. It targets cancer cells more effectively than chemotherapy, which kills healthy cells. I was excited to pursue research in this space.

What prompted you to make the switch from cancer to liver disease?

The opportunity came up to research liver disease with the GMRF Team. The more I read the literature, the more I learned how limited the therapeutic options for fatty liver disease are, and how often it can lead to liver cancer. It motivated me to try and do my bit to add to our understanding.

What’s the focus of your project?

My project is looking at the role excess iron plays in the progression of fatty liver disease. I’m working with a particular molecule called hepcidin, which plays a significant role in the control of iron in the body.

From past GMRF research, we believe that managing iron levels can decrease damage to the liver which results from fatty liver and alcohol. It’s novel work which is really exciting and there is very little work on hepcidin in fatty liver.The problem of fatty liver disease is getting much worse, so it is motivating for me to be part of a solution.

What do you like most about working at GMRF?

The people I work with definitely make this a great place to work, and the equipment I have access to is world-class.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love catching up with friends, playing soccer, running. I’m new to Brisbane so I’ve been enjoying exploring the area, but there is still a lot more I want to see!

Find out more about the GMRF Liver Research Unit