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Liz Connolly

Chris O Brien Lifehouse and the Children’s Medical Research Institute, Sydney


ESMO: Tell us a bit about your career so far

I completed medical school in Manchester, UK followed by foundation training (internship and residency) in Northern Ireland. A ‘year out’ in the sunshine has morphed into 9 years and completion of physician and medical oncology training in Australia. I moved to Sydney in 2019 and completed a rural fellowship, where I would fly each week to provide oncology care in rural Australia (Dubbo and rural NSW), followed by a clinical-research Sarcoma fellowship 2020-21. I qualified as a medical oncologist in 2020 and commenced a PhD in 2021. My main clinical interests are adolescent and young adult (AYA) malignancies and care, in particular sarcomas.

What is your current activity?

I am currently undertaking a PhD full time in sarcoma proteomics to identify proteomic signatures of outcome such biomarkers of relapse or survival. I continue some clinical work, mainly an AYA sarcoma clinic, at Chris O Brien Lifehouse, Sydney.

What motivates you?

Patients motivate me to learn more, do more, strive to be a better oncologist and be part of research that will help improve their care and outcomes. The more I learn about cancer and practice oncology, the more intriguing it becomes and how much more there is to understand.

Why did you choose to become a medical oncologist?

Cancer has always fascinated me. As a first-year medical student, I was drawn to oncology patients and wanted to understand their presentations and disease. As a fourth-year medical student I chose a lung cancer project for my research block, at the Christie Cancer Centre, UK. I loved my research project and the patients and oncologists I met. Shortly after, I watched the advent of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (EGFR inhibitors) and immunotherapy in lung cancer and melanoma. I saw how care and outcomes were transformed in such a short time and I was hooked! The importance of our communication with patients and their families, the emotive and urgent nature of our work, the treatments, how rapidly progressive oncology is and how research is ingrained in day-to-day work, all solidified my desire to become a medical oncologist.

What does your involvement with ESMO and the Young Oncologists Committee (YOC) mean to you?

I feel privileged to have the opportunity to meet other young oncologists from across the world and understand how oncology systems and careers differ. I have used many of the resources ESMO offers and really value being able to contribute to oncology resources and opportunities for other young oncologists.

Do you have some good advice you would like to share with your international colleagues?

Not to be afraid to take different paths in medicine (whether clinical work, research, career opportunities, time out from practice or even moving to another country) as any path is ultimately experience that will be helpful in shaping your future path, options and decisions.

Last update: July 2022

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