Krystyna Gieniec

Krystyna Gieniec

Higher Degree by Research Candidate

Adelaide Medical School

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences


I am a PhD student in the Gastrointestinal Cancer Biology Group at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) with a passion for researching how bowel cancer becomes so deadly.

Although bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in Australia, affecting 1 in 13 people annually, it is the second most deadly type of cancer as there is often little in the way of effective treatments for advanced disease. It is therefore imperative that we find new, better, ways to stop it. In recent years, the involvement of the connective tissue in cancer progression has been questioned. The connective tissue cell type I am particularly interested in is known as cancer-associated fibroblasts, or CAFs, although little is definitively known about their role in bowel cancer. It does appear, however, that most CAFs actively play a role in tumour progression. The Gut Cancer group and I have identified several proteins made by CAFs that are upregulated in bowel cancer and are associated with worse patient outcome, and I am now trying to understand their role in bowel cancer progression at a molecular level. To do this I have optimised many different assays to examine changes in the function of CAFs that produce or lack these proteins, and am also able to observe the effects these proteins have on tumour cells grown as three-dimensional organoids (‘mini-organs’ grown in a dish). Additionally, to determine if a lack of these proteins slows tumour growth and increases survival (either by using an inhibiting drug or removing the proteins at a genetic level), I utilise mouse models where bowel tumour organoids are injected into the colon via colonoscope (primary model) or liver via open surgery (metastatic model). I am then able to monitor tumour growth by live mouse colonoscopy and/or bioluminescence imaging.

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  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2019 Award Merck poster prize The University of Adelaide Australia
    2018 Scholarship Research Travel Scholarship University of Adelaide Australia
    2018 Scholarship Research Travel Scholarship The University of Adelaide Australia
    2017 Scholarship Lions Medical Research Foundation Inc Scholarship University of Adelaide
    2017 Scholarship Research Training Program (RTP) stipend University of Adelaide
    2016 Scholarship Jemima Lendrum Honours Grant University of Adelaide
    2016 Scholarship Gastrointestinal Cancer Biology Group Honours Scholarship SAHMRI
    2016 Achievement First Class Honours University of Adelaide
    2015 Scholarship Faculty of Sciences Summer Research Scholarship University of Adelaide
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2017 University of Adelaide, Adelaide Australia PhD
    2016 - 2016 University of Adelaide Australia Honours Degree of Bachelor of Health Sciences
    2013 - 2015 University of Adelaide Australia Bachelor of Science (Advanced)
  • Research Interests

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  • Committee Memberships

    Date Role Committee Institution Country
    2017 - ongoing Representative SAHMRI Student Association SAHMRI

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