Meet the researcher: Jenny Hogstrom-Stakem

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Jenny Hogstrom-Stakem, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, was recently awarded the 2023 AACR-AstraZeneca Breast Cancer Research Fellowship. Here she shares her career highlights and advice with DDW’s Diana Spencer.

Jenny Hogstrom-StakemDS: Can you tell us what you do and what you’re working on at the moment?

JHS: I’m a postdoctoral research fellow at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/ Harvard Medical School doing breast cancer research. We have established a collection of patient-derived organoid cultures and matching cancer-associated fibroblasts from treatment-naïve and treatment- resistant hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. I’m utilising this platform to study how metabolites secreted by the cancer- associated fibroblasts stimulate resistance to CDK4/6 inhibitors.

DS: What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

JHS: Making impactful discoveries and publishing your research is always a highlight at that moment. During my graduate studies I was a member of the student council at the University of Helsinki. This gave me the opportunity to participate in organising symposiums and make connections with excellent scientists. Moving to Boston to start my postdoctoral research and receiving the 2023 AACR-AstraZeneca Breast Cancer Research Fellowship are the biggest career highlights so far.

DS: What drug discovery breakthrough has been most impactful to your research?

JHS: Development and approval of the different hormone therapies and CDK4/6 inhibitors. These targeted therapies have extended the survival of patients with HR+ breast cancer. Unfortunately, many patients with advanced disease relapse and discovery of novel druggable targets that can be used in combination with these therapies is much needed.

DS: What has been the best piece of career-related advice you have received?

JHS: Perseverance and to pursue my goals. As a first-year graduate student I was asked where I see myself in five years. I had recently attended a ‘Women in Cancer Research’ mentoring session at the AACR-NCI-EORTC conference on molecular targets and cancer therapeutics in Boston. I met with several people and learned about their career paths. I liked the city, the science, and the impressive infrastructure at the different research institutes. So, I replied “a postdoc at Harvard or one of the affiliated hospitals”. My PhD supervisor told me to go after what I want and not to give up when it gets tough. This is excellent advice that I apply both at work and in my personal life.

DS: What advice would you offer to someone hoping to pursue a career in drug discovery research?

JHS: Learn as much as you can, even things that might appear useless at that moment. You never know when that knowledge might come in handy.

DS: If you could make everyone read one book, article or academic paper, what would it be and why?

JHS: I love reading ‘The Hallmarks of Cancer’ by Douglas Hanahan and Robert A Weinberg. It’s a great review article on different aspects of cancer biology. The field changes fast so the authors update the hallmarks every decade.

DDW Volume 25 – Issue 1, Winter 2023/2024

DIANA SPENCERAbout the author

Diana Spencer is the Senior Digital Content Editor on DDW. She brings 18 years’ experience in both print and digital editorial roles for B2B publications dedicated to the life sciences sector, including medical and pharmaceutical industry journals/magazines.

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