Cameron Bracken

Cameron Bracken

Adelaide Medical School

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Dr Cameron Bracken, Head, Gene Regulation Networks Laboratory.
The Centre for Cancer Biology (CCB) is a Medical Research Institute which carries out a world-class program of innovative research, making breakthrough discoveries in the fundamental causes of cancer, and translating these discoveries into new ways to prevent and treat this group of diseases.

The CCB is an alliance between SA Pathology and the University of South Australia and boasts the largest concentration of cancer research in South Australia, currently hosting 22 full-time research group leaders and their teams.

CCB laboratories carry out research in leukaemia, breast cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer and colon cancer, focussing in the specialised areas of gene regulation, molecular signalling, translational oncology and cancer genomics. In addition to these laboratories, our ACRF Genomics Facility is providing access to state-of-the-art genomics research equipment, computing technology and bioinformatics expertise to the Centre for Cancer Biology and the wider research community.

Translation of new discoveries into clinical practice is strengthened by the co-localisation of the laboratories within a single centre, as well as its proximity to the Royal Adelaide Hospital along with its clinical resources, the University of South Australia and the University of Adelaide, with which it shares key research facilities.

The CCB also has alliances with leading pharmaceutical companies to rapidly exploit new discoveries. The Centre aims to be a hub of internationally recognized cancer research excellence, achieving tangible outcomes for cancer patients.

The CCB is a member of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI)

Gene Regulation Networks Group

Because they have many targets, microRNAs are ideally suited to act as network regulators via their simultaneous targeting of multiple components within a signalling pathway. Utilising cutting-edge methodologies and mass sequencing techniques, we are investigating how microRNAs select and regulate their target genes and how these genes interact to regulate the invasive capacity of cancer cells. We are also investigating new or poorly understood roles for microRNAs in cancer, including the impact of naturally occurring microRNA sequence variants and the potential for microRNAs to directly regulate transcription within the nucleus, a mechanism for which there is good evidence but little recognition. We aim to publish high impact papers of direct relevance to microRNA function in the context of human cancer.

Potential student research projects

Possible student research projects include both wet-bench and/or bioinformatic projects. Research project areas include:

The role of naturally occurring microRNA variants (isomiRs):

MicroRNAs are expressed as a series of naturally-occurring sequence variants called isomiRs. We are investigating examples of isomiRs whereby these subtle variations in sequence can have profound effects on microRNA function.

The role of nuclear microRNAs:

In addition to their well characterised role in the cytoplasm, a significant amount of microRNA also exists in the nucleus. Recent findings suggest this may have a role directly regulating transcription through binding target gene promoters and either recruiting or inhibiting RNA polymerase. We are investigating this new and largely unrecognized mechanism of microRNA function, especially with regard to microRNAs with known roles in the initiation or progression of cancer.

MicroRNA-regulated networks:

Genes function within wider genetic networks which microRNAs are ideally suited to regulate at multiple levels to achieve stronger or more selective functions. We are investigating signalling networks of genes regulated by microRNAs relevant to cancer, such as the multi-level regulation of EGF signalling that is over-active in cancer where it regulates cancer survival, proliferation and migration.

  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2015 - 2018 Co-Supervisor Identification and Functional Characterization of Long Noncoding RNAs Involved in Endosperm Development of Arabidopsis thaliana Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Quang Trung Do
    2014 - 2016 Co-Supervisor Micro-RNAs in Cancer: Novel Origins and Sequence Variation Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Feng Yu
    2010 - 2015 Co-Supervisor Insight into the function of microRNAs and other small RNAs of diverse origin Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Daniel Wyville Thomson
  • Other Supervision Activities

    Date Role Research Topic Location Program Supervision Type Student Load Student Name
    2016 - 2022 Co-Supervisor Nuclear microRNAs Centre for Cancer Biology University of South Australia Doctorate Part Time Klay Saunders
    2015 - 2015 Co-Supervisor Direct Transcriptional Regulation by Nuclear microRNAs Centre for Cancer Biology University of South Australia Honours Full Time Klay Saunders

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