13 Apr 2022

Pandemic led to career pivot

Sian Farrell, is co-founder and chief scientific officer at start-up company, StimOxygen, which is developing a potential treatment for cancer patients.

Based at the Ulster University Coleraine, she got involved in the initiative during the pandemic.

The spin-off firm's focus is solving the problem of hypoxia (low-levels of oxygen) in solid tumours.

"There are very low levels of oxygen within tumours for treatments such as radiotherapy that work by converting oxygen into a weapon against cancer - they can't work if there is no oxygen there.

"We have developed an oxygen generating nanoparticle that goes to the tumour site, breaks down there and it can boost the effects of radiotherapy."

Sian trained as a pharmacist, but helped form StimOxygen while studying for her PhD, after participating in the Innovation to Commercialisation of University Research project.

During the pandemic, Sian realised she could pivot in her career, and was impressed by the possibilities in the technology industry in Northern Ireland.

"You wouldn't believe the start-ups, the ideas and the technology that we have, I think the main challenge for us in Northern Ireland is we have to learn to scale it up faster and bigger."