Cancer Research

Cancer Research Laboratories

ACRF Cancer Genomics Facility

The aim of the ACRF Cancer Genomics Facility is to provide a full range of genomics and bioinformatics services to the South Australian research community. The facility gives researchers access to a number of powerful technologies including next generation sequencing from Illumina and Ion Torrent. Through the ACRF Cancer Genomics Facility, it is now possible to sequence an individual’s genome for a few thousand dollars or the protein coding genes that form the basis of personalised medicine for hundreds of dollars. This can be accomplished in just a few days influencing diagnosis and choice of therapy for both cancer and genetic diseases.

Name Rob King
Telephone +61 8 8222 3966
Website Centre for Cancer Biology: ACRF Cancer Genomics Facility


Acute Leukaemia Laboratory

The major focus of the Acute Leukemia Laboratory is to understand the mechanisms underlying normal blood cell growth and differentiation, and the changes associated with myeloid diseases, in particular acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and myeloproliferative disease (MPD). Close collaboration between research/diagnostics/clinics.

Research Leader

Name Prof Richard D’Andrea
Telephone +61 8 830 27830
Website Centre for Cancer Biology: Acute Leukaemia Laboratory


Cell Signalling Laboratory

The focus of research in the Cell Signalling Laboratory is to understand what turns a benign cancer cell, which remains, local and treatable to a metastatic cell capable of spreading to multiple organs.

Name A/Prof Yeesim Khew-Goodall
Telephone +61 8 830 27741
Website Centre for Cancer Biology: Cell Signalling Laboratory


Cytokine Receptor Laboratory

The laboratory seeks to understand the mechanism of cytokine receptor activation, in particular the GM-CSF, IL-3 and IL-5 receptors, in health and disease, contributing to the development of new drugs for unmet clinical needs such as leukaemia, asthma and arthritis.

Name Prof Angel Lopez
Telephone +61 8 830 27915
Website Centre for Cancer Biology: Cytokine Receptor Laboratory


Dame Roma Mitchell Cancer Research Laboratories

The Dame Roma Mitchell Cancer Research Laboratories have an internationally recognised research program focussed on breast and prostate cancers. Our research uses the latest genomic technologies combined with clinically-relevant laboratory models that we have developed in close collaboration with surgeons and oncologists, who are at the front-line of treating these cancers. We aim to understand how these cancers develop and the reasons why some patients develop resistance to current therapies, and to develop new treatments that are so urgently required for patients with advanced disease.

Our overarching goal is to address these critical scientific and clinical questions, while also maintaining strong links with consumers, who have been personally affected by breast or prostate cancer. To that end, our research program is enhanced by a consumer advisory panel and national and international collaborators who ensure that our research remains clinically-relevant and is at the cutting edge of international science.

Name Prof Wayne Tilley
Telephone +61 8 831 37861
Website Dame Roma Mitchell Cancer Research Laboratories, University of Adelaide


Detmold Family Trust Cell Imaging Centre

The Detmold Family Trust Cell Imaging Centre provides staff and students of SA Pathology, and other research institutions, access to state-of-the-art cell sorters, flow cytometers and microscopes, with specialist staff on hand to assist investigators in achieving the best results from their studies.

The Detmold Family Trust Cell Imaging Centre was so named to acknowledge the Detmold family’s generous donation towards the purchase of the flow cytometer. The gift commemorates Mr Phillip Detmold, who died of leukaemia in 2001. These funds were met by an equal contribution from the Department of Human Services.

Funding for the original confocal microscope came predominantly from the Welcome Trust and was due to the tireless efforts of a small group of researchers at the Hanson Institute. The Facility provides specialist cell-imaging which enhances the research activities being undertaken across the campus.

Name Kate Pilkington
Telephone +61 8 830 27469


Experimental Therapeutics and Translational Oncology Laboratory

The laboratory head, Professor Brown, runs the Royal Adelaide Hospital Cancer Clinical Trials Unit and is a senior consultant medical oncologist in the Royal Adelaide Hospital Cancer Centre. He subspecialises in the care of patients with advanced melanoma or lung cancer.
His clinical research is focused mainly on facilitating rapid access to new targeted therapies and on early phase clinical trials for testing new immunotherapies for the treatment of melanoma and lung cancer. His laboratory research is focused mainly on understanding better how to direct T cells, the ‘generals’ of the immune system, toward cancer targets.

Name Prof Michael Brown
Telephone +61 8 830 292467
Website Centre for Cancer Biology: Translational Oncology Laboratory


Gastrointestinal Research Laboratory

The research activities of the Gastroenterology Research Laboratory include gastroenterology pathology, cancer precursor lesions and malignancies of the colorectum, oesophagus and pancreas.

Name A/Prof Andrew Ruszkiewicz
Telephone +61 8 813 32277
Website Centre for Cancer Biology: Gastroenterology Research Laboratory


Gene Regulation Laboratory

Professor Greg Goodall

We have discovered that the miR-200 family of microRNAs controls epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT), which is considered to be a key step in cancer metastasis, which is the major cause of death from cancer. We have found that these microRNAs have to be turned off to allow cancer cells to become invasive and that if we enforce expression of the microRNAs, we can block the EMT process and even convert the migratory cells back to non-migratory, ‘epithelial’ cells. In ongoing work we are examining the mechanisms that control production and loss of the microRNAs; identifying the gene targets of the microRNAs; examining human tumours for involvement of the microRNAs in invasion and metastasis and using in vitro and in vivo models to identify the pathways through which they operate. We are also using next generation sequencing and bioinformatics to understand cancer pathways controlled by microRNAs.

Name Prof Greg Goodall
Telephone +61 8 830 27751
Website Centre for Cancer Biology: Gene Regulation Laboratory


Leukemia Unit Research

The Leukemia Unit investigates the molecular response to therapy by an examination of the genetic abnormality: the BCR-ABL1 fusion gene.

Name A/Prof Susan Branford
Telephone +61 8 822 23899
Website Centre for Cancer Biology: Leukaemia Unit Molecular and Genetic Pathology


Lymphatic Development Laboratory

The Lymphatic Development Laboratory performs research to understand how the growth and development of lymphatic vessels (lymphangiogenesis) is controlled during embryonic development and in disease states.

Name A/Prof Natasha Harvey
Telephone +61 8 830 27835
Website Centre for Cancer Biology: Lymphatic Development Laboratory


Molecular Pathology Laboratory

Studies on the Molecular Pathology Laboratory examine transcriptional mechanisms (including epigenetics), and molecular pathogenesis in autoimmunity and haematological malignancies, including identification of disease causing genes and mutations.

Name Prof Hamish Scott
Telephone +61 8 822 23651
Website Centre for Cancer Biology: Molecular Pathology Research Laboratory


Molecular Regulation Laboratory

Professor Sharad Kumar

Our research focus is on fundamental cancer biology and the molecular exploration of human diseases through the study of cell death and ubiquitination. Millions of cells in the human body die every minute by programmed cell death (PCD), which plays a key role in cell and tissue homeostasis and too little or too much of it can lead to many human diseases including cancer. Given its essential role in normal functioning of the body, deciphering the mechanisms that mediate cell death is essential for understanding disease processes and to design effective treatment strategies.

Ubiquitination is a common type of protein modification that is involved in the disposal of old and/or damaged proteins. As such it plays a major role in cell growth, renewal and cancer, among other regulatory pathways. It is thus necessary to study and understand this process at a fundamental level.

Name Prof Sharad Kumar
Telephone +61 8 830 27918
Website Centre for Cancer Biology: Molecular Regulation Laboratory


Molecular Signalling Laboratory

The Molecular Signalling Laboratory examines cell signalling pathways that contribute to cancer and other diseases. In particular, the primary focus of our work is on the sphingolipid pathway, which can trigger increased cell survival, increased cell proliferation, and new blood vessel formation; three of the classic hallmarks of cancer. Indeed, we and others have established that sphingosine kinase, a central enzyme in the sphingolipid pathway, plays an important role in many different cancers, and is an attractive target for anti-cancer therapy. Our studies are directed in 3 main areas: (i) to understand the molecular mechanisms regulating sphingosine kinase in cancer, (ii) developing agents that target sphingosine kinase, or its regulation, as anti-cancer agents, and (iii) defining the downstream pathways important for sphingolipid-mediated cancer cell signalling.

Name Prof Stuart Pitson
Telephone +61 8 830 27832
Website Centre for Cancer Biology: Molecular Signalling Laboratory


Mucositis Research Laboratory

We are a multi-laboratory group, covering a full spectrum from gene array to population-based study, including patient-reported outcomes and toxicity clustering. The core group operates animal models of chemotherapy-, radiotherapy- and targeted therapy-induced mucositis, and tests drugs and compounds that may alleviate or prevent symptoms of mucositis.

Professor Keefe works with various pharmaceutical companies on drug development in mucositis. Senior members of this group have been very closely involved with recent updates of clinical guidelines and systematic reviews for the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC).

Name Prof Dorothy Keefe
Telephone +61 8 822 23261
Website Centre for Orofacial Research and Learning- Mucosal Research


Myelodysplastic Syndrome Research Group

Research is conducted in Myelodysplastic syndrome with various projects including: underlying molecular mechanism regulating changes, signalling pathways, differentiating hypoplastic MDS from aplastic anaemia, detecting bone marrow genomic changes and targeting MDS-stem cells/progenitors with combination therapies.

Name Dr Devendra Hiwase
Telephone +61 8 822 23369
Website none


Tumor Microenvironment Laboratory

Our laboratory is interested in the ways in which cancers modify their surroundings to help them survive, grow and spread. The spreading of cancer cells from a primary site at which they arise to a secondary site (often a different organ) is the main cause of cancer-related death. As cancers move from harmless or benign forms to the more dangerous metastatic forms capable of spreading, the environment surrounding the cancer cells changes. Non-cancerous cells and the structures that act as a scaffold for the cancers in this environment begin to behave abnormally. These changes promote invasiveness, causing the cancers to spread. We have discovered that a protein called ROCK that is present at very high levels in many cancers is important in regulating these changes in the cancer environment and are trying to discover how it works and whether it can be targeted as a cancer therapy.

Name Dr Michael Samuel
Telephone +61 8 830 27990
Website Centre for Cancer Biology: Tumour Microenvironment Laboratory


Vascular Biology and Cell Trafficking Laboratory

Dr Claudine Bonder is a Heart Foundation Fellow and Head of the Vascular Biology and Cell Trafficking Laboratory at the Centre for Cancer Biology in Adelaide, South Australia.
From her research training during her PhD at Flinders University and post-doctoral position at the University of Calgary (Canada) she has gained expert experience in vascular and cellular biology, immunology, inflammation and imaging.
The focus of Dr Bonder’s laboratory is the blood vasculature and how it contributes to health and disease. More specifically, she and her team investigate (i) endothelial progenitor cells, (ii) leukocyte trafficking and (iii) activation of the vasculature during diseases such as heart disease, breast cancer, melanoma and allergy. Dr Bonder’s research has culminated in important advances in this area, including (i) identifying the adhesion molecules used by leukocyte subsets and progenitor cells to traffic to inflamed organs, (ii) defining mediators of endothelial progenitor cell function and differentiation and (iii) identifying key surface expressed receptors which regulate major cell survival signals.

Name A/Prof Claudine Bonder
Telephone +61 8 830 27833
Website Centre for Cancer Biology: Vascular Biology Laboratory