Putting our region's cancer needs first

Dr Rita Cha

Rita Cha is a Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences at Bangor University.

Dr Rita Cha

Q: How long have you been a scientist?

A: I have been working as a scientist since 1997. Before that I was studying. I was born in South Korea, and I moved with my family to Massachusetts in the USA. I then moved to London and now live very happily in Bangor with my son.


Q: What is your role?

A: My role is to identify the changes that happen in the body which can lead to cancer. Once we know more about those changes we are closer to finding out how to either stop the changes or in developing more targeted treatments.


Q: What are you working on at the moment?

A: For many years I worked on studying DNA and the role of DNA in cancer. But recently we realised that it’s also the changes in proteins inside the body which play a crucial part in why cancer develops. In particular we are looking at a protein called a Tumour Suppressor. In some cases this protein mutates and it stops doing its job to supress tumours, and in some cases tumours can then develop. By furthering our understanding of this protein and this mutation, we can work on developing targeted treatments to deal with it.


Q: How did you feel when your work led to this breakthrough?

A: This discovery took our work in a different direction and we believe this will make a difference to our understanding of how this disease develops in some people.


Q: What drives you in your job?

A: The challenge of cancer is a big one, and as scientists we tend to take small steps in furthering our knowledge and understanding of this disease, but every step we take is so gratifying, and every project we work on is so precious, and ultimately we believe we will get there.


Q: What do you do outside the lab?

A: I live in a beautiful part of the country and every few weeks my teenage son Max and I try to have a day out exploring somewhere new in North Wales. We often take a game of chess with us. I used to win all the time but he has got a lot better recently so he’s beating me more at the moment! I also love to play the piano, and I enjoy cooking.

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