Dr Sarah Boyle

James McWha Rising Star Award recipient 2023

An exceptional young leader in the field of breast cancer research, Sarah has embodied excellence and innovation throughout her studies and her career and was awarded the 2023 James McWha Rising Star Award by the University of Adelaide. She was awarded a Dean’s Commendation for Thesis Excellence for her doctoral thesis in Biological Science, which was accepted without changes. Following her graduation in 2015, she has worked at the Centre for Cancer Biology, achieving three consecutive fellowships from the Royal Adelaide Hospital, The Hospital Research Foundation Group, and the highly competitive Australian Research Council.

Sarah’s innovative research focuses on the cancer microenvironment, the non-cancerous cells and structures that are within the vicinity of cancer cells. “We’re interested in how cancer cells can talk to these cellular and noncellular components of that environment and interact with them. What we hope to achieve is to understand how and why these interactions can help cancer to grow so that we can find ways to interrupt that."

Sarah’s interest in cancer was reinforced by personal experiences while studying her Bachelor of Science (Biotechnology).

A portrait of Dr Boyle sitting at a table

Dr Sarah Boyle
Bachelor of Science (Biotechnology) 2010, Bachelor of Science (Honours) 2011, Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Science 2015

“What really motivates me is working with women who have had breast cancer.”

“In my final year of my bachelor’s degree, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. That really solidified my interest in health research and cancer
research, in particular breast cancer.”

Now a mentor to other young scientists, Sarah continues to gain inspiration from the people she is able to impact through her work. “What really motivates me is working with women who have had breast cancer.” Sarah also credits her mentors for guiding and inspiring her throughout her career. “I think it’s incredibly important to have those mentors and role models who inspire you to do what you do… I’ve been fortunate to have a number of fantastic mentors, including strong female mentors, throughout my career,” says Sarah. Sarah measures her own success not only by career milestones like publications, grant achievements and speaking engagements, but also by less measurable triumphs like a student leaving the lab happy or an experiment that went well. “Seeing the opportunity for a discovery that we have made to go into the translational pipeline, to potentially develop new therapies for patients, is very special.”

Tagged in Distinguished Alumni Awards 2023, Distinguished Alumni Awards, James McWha Rising Star Award, alumni profiles