Sheena Daignault

BSc. Hons.

PhD Student


MITF expression regulates cell adhesion and subcompartment-specific distribution of differentially cycling melanoma cells

This project focuses on tumour heterogeneity and the behaviour of individual cells within dynamic subcompartments of a given melanoma tumour. MITF is important in melanocyte lineage of normal cells, but has varying levels of expression in separate tumour population contributing to proliferative and invasive phenotypes. There is urgency to understand the effect MITF expression has on melanomagenesis. Utilising a 3D tumour spheroid model allows us to observe cells in real time through fluorescence of different cell cycle stages.

About me

I have recieved my first Bachelor degree with Health and Medical Sciences emphasis from Minnesota State University Moorhead in 2011. During this time I did a study exchange to Australia at the University of the Sunshine Coast, where I quickly learned the advantages of living in Australia and gained a high respect for the culture. I later returned to Australia, where I did my second Bachelor of Science degree with Honours at the University of Queensland Diamantina Institute in the Cell Cycle Laboratory supervised by Professor Brian Gabrielli in 2013.

It was during this short time that I had learned a great deal about cancer biology and the challenges that researchers are facing. I knew I wanted to continue working in melanoma research, as there are so many questions left unanswered; I have been fortunate enough to do so.

Shortly after completing my Honours degree, I began working as a Research Assistant in the Experimental Melanoma Therapy Group under Associate Professor Nikolas Haass. I have maintained this position for 1.5 years until I recieved a promotion to my current role of Laboratory Manager. 

I am exploring the options of starting a Phd at the University of Queensland Diamantina Institute where I will examine how MITF is regulating cell-cell adhesion and cell cycle progression of heterogenous melanoma tumours.

Research fields