The Cabrini Monash University Department of Surgery have recently appointed two postdoctoral researchers to begin cutting edge projects involved with colorectal organoids and tissue micro arrays.

As an introduction to our new team members Dr Rebekah Engel and Dr Christine Koulis, below are their answers to several 'get to know you' interview questions.


Previous job before joining Cabrini?

Rebekah: Postdoctoral researcher in the Cellular immunology lab at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute since March 2012. Has a PhD in immunology from University of Queensland (2012). 

Christine: Previously I worked at Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Research Institute in the Diabetic Complications Laboratory as a Research Officer where I investigated the role of advanced glycation end-products in diabetes-associated atherosclerosis.


What's your specific research role in the department?

R: I am working between the Cabrini Institute and Monash University on the Human Organoid research project.

C: As a research officer, my role involves carrying out research projects related to the colorectal neoplasia database. Currently, I am assessing the perioperative risk acquired in colorectal cancer surgery patients with type 2 diabetes.

We also have a number of future projects planned which include the construction of tissue micro arrays to determine colorectal cancer outcomes based on various genes, the ADIPOSe clinical trial which will assess the effects of low energy diet on rectal surgery outcomes and the Patient Reported Outcome Measures Study (PROMS) following colorectal surgery.


Star Wars or Star Trek?

R: Neither. I have managed to get to this far in my life without having watched either of these.

C: Star Wars...I think the droids are pretty cool. 


Apart from work, what are you reading at the moment?

R: I have just finished reading a novel by Paula Hawkins, The girl on the train; a great psychological thriller.

C: Fast living, slow ageing by Kate Marie and Christopher Thomas.


First impressions of bowel cancer research? 

R: The enthusiasm within this group is contagious. It’s exciting to be part of a team that is passionate about this research, and committed to improving patient outcomes.

C: I was impressed with the direct translational link of the research projects and the close contact that the colorectal surgeons have with the research team. As a result, there have been a number of publications from Cabrini which are directly relevant to improving the outcomes of colorectal cancer patients.


Favourite film or TV show?

R: Nashville

C: Food safari, I enjoy learning about cuisines from all around the world.


What do you enjoy about Melbourne?

R: I have just relocated to Melbourne from Brisbane and I am having a great time getting to know this city. I love the culture and the food, and I look forward to enjoying more of both. 

C: I enjoy the great variety and quality of food that Melbourne has to offer and of course the amazing coffee.


Best advice from a work mentor or colleague?

R: Focus on what you can control. Don't sweat the rest.

C: Where there’s a will there’s a way.


Favourite sport?

R: Being a true Queenslander, I love the NRL, especially come State of Origin time!



Ultimate travel destination?

R: Somewhere tropical and sunny where I can swim and fish. 

C: Tahiti for its natural beauty and serenity.


Growing up, what job did you aspire to do?

R: After I completed my PhD, my grandmother asked me when was I going to become a ‘real’ doctor!

C: I have always had an interest in science although it wasn’t until completing my science degree that I decided to undertake a PhD and subsequently a career in medical research. I enjoy knowing that the research that we do will help those affected with colorectal cancer.


Desert Island discs?

R: Matchbox 20 Yourself or someone like you; Powderfinger Fingerprints; Michael Buble Crazy Love.

C: Buena vista social club Buena vista social club; Santana The Best of Santana – Special Edition; The stars of the Buena vista 21st century: When Life Begins.