Finding the causes and developing treatments for neurological diseases motivates Dr Belinda Kaskow, a postdoctoral scientist in the Demyelinating Diseases Research group (Perron Institute and Murdoch University).
After completing a Bachelor of Science at UWA majoring in Genetics, Dr Kaskow concentrated her efforts on immune disease research, specifically multiple sclerosis and cancer.
“My main focus is defining the antigens responsible for MS and delineating immune dysregulation in patients diagnosed with clinically isolated syndrome, the earliest time point to study MS.
“I undertook my Honours and subsequently my PhD in Winthrop Professor Lawrie Abraham’s lab at UWA and fell in love with science and research. My main goal is to discover treatments which provide positive impact for people living with MS.
“During my postdoc experience overseas, several members of my immediate family were diagnosed with different types of cancer. The unknown is most difficult. Finding answers and potential treatments keeps me motivated in a competitive environment.”
Dr Kaskow completed postdoctoral fellowships at Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases in Boston, USA.
“My postdoctoral mentor, Associate Professor Clare Baecher-Allan at Brigham and Women’s Hospital was incredibly inspiring. She has an infectious passion for research and taught me how to create opportunities even if experiments failed.
“‘Control the controllable’ is one of my favourite sayings. Regardless of the outcome, I know I’ve done my best.
“Last year, I received the inaugural Eyewall Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellowship. This allowed me to return to my hometown of Perth and work at the Perron Institute in Professor Allan Kermode’s lab.
“Working with Professor Kermode is a privilege. He has incredible compassion for his patients and brings his clinical expertise to his research program so that, as a team, we can find solutions to some of the complex problems in neurological research.
“My advice for students and young researchers is that as there are many avenues in science, find a good mentor and team environment for you to thrive.”
In her spare time, Dr Kaskow enjoys cooking and baking. “I am challenging myself to make every recipe out of a Women’s Weekly ‘Sweet old-fashioned favourites’ cookbook, often used in my childhood.
“I also have two young boys who love to play ‘scientist’ which for them means anything involving mixing food colouring and getting messy.”