Dr Jake Shortt views haematology and blood cancers as one of the most complex aspects of medicine. He enjoys the intellectual challenge of researching blood cancers and likes to question established dogmas and ‘think outside of the square’.
During Dr Shortt’s PhD project, he was using a solvent, N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP), to administer drugs to myeloma mice. Unlike previous researchers, he noticed the control group of myeloma mice that were just receiving NMP had a positive response and that this correlated with activation of their immune system. With more detailed understanding of how NMP and drugs with similar structures work, these significant finding were rapidly translated into a human clinical trial.
As Dr Shortt explains, there has been a spectacular acceleration in the methods and effectiveness of diagnosing, dissecting and treating cancer. We have made amazing progress in blood cancers in particular over the last ten years, with big improvements in patient outcomes. It is a very exciting time and there are numerous approaches that can be explored. One of the biggest limitations is funding.
Dr Jake Shortt is a Consultant Haematologist at Monash Health and a Senior Research Fellow at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre where he works in the Gene Regulation Laboratory. After graduating top of his medical class in New Zealand in 1999, he moved to Australia and undertook advanced training in haematology at the Alfred Hospital, gaining joint Fellowship in the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia in 2008. He then completed a PhD in cancer therapeutics at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, studying how targeted therapies can kill lymphoma and myeloma cells. Since his PhD, Dr Shortt has been treating patients at Monash Health, while continuing his research efforts seeking out new targets in haematological cancers. Together with the Victorian Cancer Agency, the Snowdome Foundation is delighted to support Dr Shortt’s research through the Eva and Les Erdi / Snowdome Foundation Fellowship for New Targets in Haematological Malignancies.