PhD candidate contributes to drug discovery collaboration targeting childhood brain cancer.
For Hector Gonzalez Alvarez, a career in cancer research is a way to create hope for families just like his.
Gonzalez is a fourth-year PhD student on OICR’s Drug Discovery team, where he works with Dr. Rima Al-awar on potential therapeutics for childhood brain cancer.
While chemistry has always interested Gonzalez academically, studying cancer therapeutics is extra meaningful because his of his family’s experiences with cancer.
“I’ve personally seen the struggles that cancer patients and their families have to go through,” says Gonzalez, who grew up and earned his undergraduate degree in Mexico. “I took this as strong motivation to join the cancer research community.”
Gonzalez works on a project involving OICR, the Structural Genomics Consortium and M4K Pharma aiming to develop small molecules that target the ALK2 enzyme, which studies suggest is critical to the development of a brain tumour called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG).
There are currently no drugs to treat DIPG, which is a particularly aggressive tumour that affects young children. Gonzalez hopes his work can help expand knowledge of DIPG’s biology and one day lead to effective treatment options for DIPG.
“I hope that at some point one of these compounds will become a clinical candidate and will bring some hope to children and to their families.”