Skip to main content Skip to footer

Tutorial news: Salje Medals awarded to Dr Emily Goodacre and Dr Sarah Gough

22 April 2024 Students

Clare Hall graduates, Dr Emily Goodacre and Dr Sarah Gough, have been awarded the Salje Medal for their PhD theses.

Two medals are awarded by the College each year to the most outstanding PhD (1) in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences and (2) in the Sciences. Learn more about their research and what they have been up to since graduating.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Clare-Hall-2024-03-23-graduation-jp-84-683x1024.jpg

Dr Emily J. Goodacre

Faculty of Education

My PhD research examined shared experiences in children’s social play. Through three studies, I explored social processes and communication across play partners (fathers, friends, and classmates) and playful activities (playing with toys, drawing, and sharing books). Findings from my first study showed how shared experiences can foster fathers’ motivation and feelings of bonding with their infants, such as by cuddling up together with a book. My second and third studies emphasised the importance of analysing factors beyond the individual children, such as relationships and the characteristics of the activity, to understand children’s communication. These findings provide new understanding of social influences on children’s play and how social play can be researched beyond previous attention to children’s individual characteristics.

Since finishing my PhD I have started working as a researcher at a children’s mental health charity, and I have also become a mum. These roles involve evaluating interventions that aim to support young people’s mental health, as well as lots of playing, drawing, and sharing books at home.

After Clare Hall being such a significant part of my life for several years, I feel honoured to receive one of this year’s Salje Medals. I am especially proud to be recognised alongside Dr Sarah Gough, with whom I have shared many happy memories during my time at Clare Hall.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_3912-683x1024.jpg

Dr Sarah Gough

Cancer Research UK – Cambridge Institute

During my PhD, I investigated the early stages of liver cancer and explored how the immune system responds to senescence: a cell programme that transiently serves to flag and clear faulty cells. Through fluorescent-based spectrometry, I demonstrated that Rorγt, a key regulator of one CD4+ subtype, Th17 cells, was more abundant in the murine senescent liver compared to the control. A genetically engineered mouse model, lacking Th17 cells, halted clearance of senescent cells while mice with healthy immunity, cleared senescent cells in the liver within one week. This suggested Th17 cells were integral to clearance of pre-cancerous senescent liver cells. 

Future studies aim to uncover the DNA code which generates the protein presented on the outside of Th17 cells which ultimately permits immune recognition of senescent cells. Harnessing this biology, would allow us to inversely crack the code of the senescence-specific protein, termed antigen, and begin engineering a preventative vaccine.

Since finishing the PhD last year, I started a post-doctoral fellowship in the Oncology Bioscience department at AstraZeneca in collaboration with Professor Frank McCormick’s laboratory at the University of California San Francisco. For the next three years, I will continue to investigate the oncogene RAS: a gene mutated in 30% of solid tumours. The protein, that sits just below the plasma membrane, is notoriously undruggable due to its smooth structure and few binding pockets for drug intervention. This poses a major challenge to academia, industry and ultimately healthcare. I’m excited to be at the intersection of all three to work on this protein and explore novels ways to intervene.

In parallel, I secured an investment to start a company Brocail; a food truck serving healthy, seasonal and sustainable meals. It has been so rewarding to see this idea come to life.

My chapter at Clare Hall has taught me a lot personally and professionally. It has been an invaluable experience and I’m so honoured to receive a Salje medal for the sciences.

The Salje Medals are kindly provided by former Clare Hall President, Professor Ekhard Salje, with a ceremony planned for June this year.