This week we have Wesley Wilson (@Weswilson) curating Real Scientists! Wesley is a Canadian cancer researcher at the University of Western Australia. Wesley also hosts the Mostly Science podcast and workson machine learning algorithms to better diagnosis cancer.
What drew you to a career in science?
I think it was a combination of factors. I was drawn towards the medical field as a young child I think because I was in and out of hospitalsas a kid. The idea of using science to solve unknown medical problems was instilled in me at a young age watching Star Trek with my Dad, I started to associate that finding solutions to solving illness must be the same. During undergrad I really got excited about molecular biology, I would say I was hooked and all my future studies and work revolved around a creative problem solving approach.
When I was first exposed to cancer work I found it very emotionally draining. You meet people on what is the worst day of their life when you tell them they have cancer. But as I transitioned towards research I started to realize I was looking at it the wrong way. Its not about the prognosis, its about what we can do to improve outcomes and the impact that has on people and families. Its that impact, that change in the status quo for existing treatments and prognosis that have such a huge impact on patients and their families lives.
And what are you working on now?
I take advantage of existing immunotherapies, and I look at the immune response profiles of solid tumours to traditional therapies like radiotherapy, and then I look at how I can manipulate the immune response to get both better local tumour responses and to trigger systemic responses to metastatic tumours in places where radiotherapy can’t get to effectively.
For most developed nations in the world, the risk of getting cancer in one’s lifetime is about ~1 in 3. It affects our friends and our families and while we are getting much better at treating some cancers, we are still powerless to treat others. Immunotherapy looks to bridge the gaps for the hard to treat cancers.
Do you have any other responsibilites?
I have a few. I am the host of the science podcast Mostly Science (fb.com/mostlyscience / mostlyscience.com/webcast/ ) where we explore different science topics and learn about the what and why of the world around us. I am an editor at Science Seeker (@SciSeeker). I am also the current President of the Science Communication Society at UWA
What kind of hobbies do you enjoy??
I’ve been playing ice hockey since I was 4 and continue to play to this day. I also play beach volleyball semi-competitively and it has been a lot of fun while I looked for new activities in Australia. I build machine learning algorithms for cancer diagnosis in my spare time. Play a little D&D. Enjoy long bike rides, hiking, exploring new places. I am also a hobbiest photographer. Landscapes mostly.
What is your ideal day off??
That is a fantastic question! Scientists are people too. I would love to have a no stress day off where I didn’t have to worry about tumour growth, upcoming deadlines, or some kind of application. Tumours wait for no one as they say. My next day off is coming up soon in early September I think, I’ll let you know what I do with it! I might go hiking and take some photos from a nice lookout of ocean.
Welcome to RealScientists, Wesley Wilson!