Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
Research Field: Immunology
Dr. Jenkins’ work focuses on the area of cytotoxic T lymphocyte biology and she has made a number of critical discoveries on how the immune system controls cancer and rids us of malignant cells. She uses highly innovative live cell imaging and confocal microscopy to define how the immune system rids the body of virus infected or transformed target cells. Imagine our immune system as a powerful weapon against cancer with white blood cells travelling around our bodies to seek and destroy cancerous cells in a rapid and efficient way. After recognising a cancer cell, the killer cell attaches to it and delivers a toxic “kiss of death”, before detaching and then seeking out more cancer cells, making them serial killers. Sometimes cancer cells are hard to kill and this causes the killer cell to stay attached to the cancer cell, like a magnet. Sometimes this killer cell needs to call for “back-up” from the immune system, releasing chemicals to send messages to other immune cells, resulting in too much inflammation. Misty’s project will discover how killer cells know it is time to detach from a dead cancer cell. This work will help lead to a deeper understanding of immune diseases and new ways of treating cancer.
Misty is of indigenous descent and a major contributor to Indigenous affairs including governing boards and shaping federal policy. Some of the programs are aimed at increasing young Indigenous students enthusiasm for science and education.
Amongst other roles she is also a regular public speaker for The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre Foundation to donors and the wider community.