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Students look at life and work of cancer researcher

Bundaberg Christian College
Professor Derek Richard chatted to Bundaberg Christian College GATEway students about his life and work as a cancer researcher.

It takes a certain tenacity to go from a public school in Scotland to being a professor heading up your own research program in Brisbane, Queensland.

Professor Derek Richard attended high school in Dundee and said he had worked hard for every success he has earned.

Addressing Bundaberg Christian College GATEway students about his research into cancer and ageing recently, Professor Richard encouraged them to not only think differently, but to never stop working hard to achieve their goals and dreams.

His Cancer and Ageing Research Program (C.A.R.P.) seeks to uncover why cancer develops at a molecular level and also to identify changes that occur in cells that causes ageing diseases like cancer, arthritis and Alzheimers.

But Professor Richard is adamant that he does not intend to stop at just researching.

His goal, with help from his team of researchers, is to develop cancer targeting drugs, stop cancers before they start and combat other ageing diseases.

GATEway students received an in-depth look at some of C.A.R.P.’s research as Professor Richard explained some of the ways he started analysing RNA and DNA – the proteins in our body that make us more or less susceptible to cancer.

This research is already being put into practice with a range of skin care products launched last year.

At the heart of the “Ellus & Krue” skin care range is an “EPI-gN” serum developed by C.A.R.P. that slows the ageing process.

This cosmetic company uses the science to create a product which in turn, through the sales of the product, generates much needed income to fund the valuable research being done.

“I was never traditionally smart,” Professor Richard said.

“I grew up in social housing. I was the only student to go straight into university from my year at school.”

Bundaberg Christian College
Professor Derek Richard also chatted to St. Luke's Anglican School students as part of his visit to the region.

With the assistance of the Cancer and Ageing Research Foundation and through sales of ethical coffee brand “CARF Coffee”, the skincare range from Ellus and Krue, public engagement, fundraising, cancer contract services and two biotechnology companies, Professor Derek Richard funds his research so that he can make a difference in the world of cancer and ageing.

“Think differently,” Professor Richard said.

“That’s the best advice I can give to anyone – aspiring scientist or not.

“Think differently, work hard, gain experience and learn from everything and everyone”.

Matt Gees
Bundaberg Christian College