NUI Galway student Úna McVeigh was selected as a prize winner from 1,100 global submissions to win the ‘Go Mini Scientific Challenge Program’ and was awarded Illumina Next-Generation Sequencing technology to advance research in breast cancer.
PhD student McVeigh was awarded cutting edge technology to the value of $4,500 to further support her research in the genetics of breast cancer. The announcement was made at a reception at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting in New Orleans in Louisiana.
 
McVeigh will receive three sequencing runs on a MiniSeq System facilitated by Illumina. She will study the genetics of breast cancer in the population of the West of Ireland, specifically in women with a strong family history of the disease, to understand the role of genes other than BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 in cancer susceptibility. 
 
The Scientific Challenge Program was launched to highlight the range of applications that can be performed using Illumina’s MiniSeq System. The MiniSeq, unveiled earlier this year is Illumina’s smallest and simplest next-generation sequencing (NGS) system ideally suited for research and industrial applications in many segments including cancer, infectious disease, inherited disease, and reproductive health. 
 
Commenting on her research, McVeigh said: “Next-generation sequencing is an invaluable tool for identifying new cancer susceptibility genes. Despite the discovery of BRCA 1 and BRCA 2, the majority of inherited predisposition to breast cancer remains unexplained."
 
"We hope our research can begin to identify new genetic drivers of breast cancer, so that one day better patient screening can improve health outcomes for populations with a genetic predisposition to the disease,” she added. 
 
Michael Kerin, Professor of Surgery at NUI Galway and Research Director of Breast Cancer Research said that it was a "wonderful opportunity" for McVeigh to be invited to attend one of the most important Cancer Research conferences in the world.
 
"Úna is working in the exciting area of breast cancer genomics and with support from Breast Cancer Research she is investigating a panel of genes of interest that will add to the growing knowledge around inherited breast cancer risk,” he said. 
 
The research was funded by Breast Cancer Research, a national charity that raises funds in support of world-class breast cancer research at NUI Galway. 
 
Commenting on the MiniSeq award, Helen Ryan, Board Chairperson of Breast Cancer Research said: “We are delighted for Úna on winning this much sought after award for her research on the genetics of breast cancer. Innovative research like Una’s is advancing Breast Cancer Research’s vision of having a real and measurable impact on outcomes for breast cancer patients.”
 
For further information about the winners announced at the first Illumina MiniSeq Scientific Challenge, click here