STEMM Profile: Dr Lahiru Gangoda | Research Fellow | La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science | La Trobe University | Melbourne | VIC

Lahiru Gangoda
Dr Lahiru Gangoda, postdoctoral researcher at La Trobe University [Image: La Trobe University]

“Truth always comes out of science. I enjoy the whole process from starting off to test a particular hypothesis to arriving at a conclusion”

Dr Lahiru Gangoda completed a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology with first class Honours from University of Colombo in Sri Lanka in 2005. In 2008, she obtained a Masters in Biotechnology and Bioinformatics from La Trobe University under the supervision of Professor Leann Tilley. Lahiru then joined the laboratory of Professor Nicholas Hoogenraad as a research assistant during which she gained skills in monoclonal antibody production and screening. In 2011, Dr Gangoda began her doctoral studies under the supervision of Dr Hamsa Puthalakath. Lahiru’s PhD research was based on mouse tumour models and she investigated the role of Bim as a tumor suppressor in Carney complex. Her PhD resulted in six publications including two first author papers.

Since 2014, Dr Gangoda has been a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Dr Suresh Mathivanan at the La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science (LIMS), and her research focusses on overcoming chemotherapeutic drug resistance in colorectal cancer. Lahiru has continuously been involved in teaching, supervising and mentoring students. She was awarded a prestigious Victorian Cancer Agency Early Career Seed Grant to continue her research in 2016 and the La Trobe University Research Excellence Award for an early career researcher in the same year. She has been awarded several travel awards to visit overseas laboratories and international conferences in Singapore, the USA, Philippines and the Netherlands, from both La Trobe University and other professional organizations including CASS Foundation, FAOBMB, EACR and Worldwide Cancer Research.

Dr Gangoda has been an invited speaker at the University of Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Hospital academic seminar series, and the Kent State University, USA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry seminar series. Overall, her scientific career has resulted in 16 publications and over 1000 citations.

What is the biggest challenge to all women pursuing a career in science?

Although many feel that children are the biggest challenge women in science has to face, I personally think building up enough self-confidence to face these obstacles is the real challenge. Having a great support network is the best thing that can help to boost your self-confidence in these situations.

What would you say is your most valuable personal attribute that has helped you succeed?

Perseverance. Working in science has many highs and lows including experiments not going according to plan and the additional pressure of getting your own grants for career security. Despite these challenges and many failures, finding the strength to keep going is important for a long-term career in science.

Who and/or what inspires you to achieve?

Most of my inspiration comes from the people I come into contact with every day. Other than my family, my work colleagues always inspire, encourage me to achieve, and bring out the best in me.

What have you learnt during your career to increase your resilience?

I have learnt not to worry too much about being scrutinized. You have to basically stick with your ideas without been too rigid. But if you are convinced with something you should pursue it and see where it leads you.

What inspired you to do science? Have you always liked science?

Science gives an opportunity for me to explore and provides me with a creative outlet. Truth always comes out of science. I enjoy the whole process from starting off to test a particular hypothesis to arriving at a conclusion. I have always liked science, as I find it fascinating.

LinkedIn: Lahira Gongoda

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