Dr. Paul Nghiem meets Dr. Helen Leonard

October 20, 2017

On Thursday October 19th, Dr. Paul Nghiem had the opportunity to meet with Dr. J. Helen Leonard. He shares his experience below.

“After collaborating for over a decade, I, finally got to meet Dr J. Helen Leonard here in Brisbane, Australia, the city in which she started the world’s first research on MCC, 30 years ago. At that time, Helen established cell lines and analyzed the genetics of MCC, a cancer that was rapidly increasing in incidence in this area in particular. Trained as a cytogeneticist/scientist, she worked at the only referral center for radiation therapy for the large state of Queensland, then called the Queensland Radium Institute (in the early days, radium particles were literally used for radiation therapy).  All MCC patients needing radiation therapy would come to the center & thus their clinical team had access to tumor tissue. Many of her cell lines are still in use today and she has shared them generously around the world.

Although Helen still works at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, she has retired from MCC research. Yesterday she delivered a very nice talk on the history and genetics of MCC at the World Congress of Melanoma being held here in Brisbane. Other speakers were Juergen Becker (Essen Germany) & Richard Tothill (Melbourne). As Co-Chairs of the meeting, Dr. Becker & I dedicated our Symposium to Dr Leonard & her pioneering, collaborative research efforts that launched MCC research efforts around the world. Both Dr. Becker & I were positively influenced to do MCC research based on her earlier studies and cell lines.”