Bell’s PhD project focuses on developing new models and chemotherapies for a rare paediatric brain tumour called ‘supratentorial ependymoma’. There is currently little that is understood about the specific subtype she studies as most patients with such tumors are incurable. She aims to develop a new chemotherapy drug to treat these children to give them a greater chance of living a full, healthy and happy life! The model and drugs she is working to develop are novel and will hopefully change the landscape of treatments for children with ependymoma.
Bell is co-founder of Black in Cancer, an organisation which aims to be a resource and network for Black researchers, physicians, advocates, survivors and patients alike. They aim to inform the Black community about cancer and provide an environment for Black cancer researchers to thrive.
To highlight factors that inhibit black people from achieving highly in STEM she says, ‘a lack of visibility as well as the attainment gap in higher education has led to challenges for Black people to get into STEM careers, with lower grades at undergraduate degrees meaning that they are unlikely to be admitted to postgraduate programmes. Furthermore, the environment in some of these higher learning institutions is not supportive of Black students hence discouraging them to apply for studies there. To circumvent these issues, she believes that significant representation of Black scientists now and in the future would be great to allow young Black people to see people like themselves in positions and spaces they would like to pursue and occupy.