Dr. Antoinette Perry
About Dr. Antoinette Perry
Whether an individual chooses to support prostate cancer through fundraising initiatives, awareness campaigns, or dedicating their career to research, the impact can be felt across the globe for men and their families. Dr. Antoinette Perry, a mother of two, has chosen the latter—to find a cure for prostate cancer by addressing the critical, unmet need of identifying aggressive tumors verses low-grade tumors, alleviating the burden of overtreatment for indolent disease. The Ireland-native conducts this research at Trinity College’s Institute of Molecular Medicine in Dublin with fellow PCF funded investigator Stephen Finn, MBBS, PhD.
Dr. Perry and her children
Antoinette became involved with prostate cancer research when she began her PhD 10 years ago, though she had no direct relatives or friends who were affected by the disease. However, she had a love for genetics and human health and disease, and prostate cancer research was blooming in Ireland.
“When I began my PhD in Ireland, the field of prostate cancer research was looking up,” shared Perry. “Several multi-institutional collaborations between a number of universities and hospitals were beginning and it seemed like a really great time to join the fight against prostate cancer.” Since then, her love for the field has “spiraled,” growing into a true passion for the cause.
Dr. Perry’s career takes up a large chunk of her time—though she still makes time for her most important role—being a mother to two children. Her son Ruairí is four-and-a-half and daughter Dearbhla is two. But, as most mothers can relate to, the role of career woman and working mom can be a juggling act.
“If I take my eye off of the ball for a moment, I feel as though it all may come crashing down.” So, how does the scientist handle the pressure? “I am a great believer in delegation and am forever making to-do lists. I have a white board in my office—people tell me it looks like an explosion has gone off on it because I have so many items on the list.” A supportive family close to home and supportive mentors at work helps to alleviate daily stresses and responsibilities.
Though you may not know by looking at her, some people compare Dr. Perry to a space agent. Well, at least her children do. “My children are too small to understand that I work in cancer research, but they both really like the movieE.T. Ruairí thinks I am a space agent looking for E.T.—I don’t have the heart to tell him that mommy does wear a white coat, but not a space suit on a mission to find aliens.”
Luckily for Dr. Perry, her work intertwines easily with everyday life. As a research scientist and an academic, Dr. Perry has a strong passion for learning and investigating most situations.
Drs. Perry and Finn in the research lab
“Whether it’s a swim class for my children or a new recipe, I find myself applying my research skills and investigating all of my options. It’s not a good skill to have when trying to make a quick decision, but I enjoy digging deeper.” And, if life weren’t busy enough, Antoinette has a long-term stretch goal: to write a vegetarian cookbook.
As a female researcher working on a male disease, Dr. Perry’s skills, knowledge and voice have never been more significant. Her voice is changing the landscape of prostate cancer, one study and one patient at a time. “Women have a great ability to humanize the disease,” shares Perry. “We can look beyond the naked facts and figures and find the part that means something for the patient.”
To learn more about Dr. Perry and her research efforts, please watch the documentary found at www.pcf.org/IrishYIs.