Grant-Funded Researcher (B)
School of Biomedicine
Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences
Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.
I am the current recipient of the Veronika Sacco Clinical Cancer Research Fellowship in the Myeloma Research Laboratory, Adelaide Medical School, University of Adelaide based in the Cancer Theme at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI).
I completed my PhD through the University of Adelaide in December 2011, with a thesis entitled “An Investigation of mutant p53 function”. In 2012, I began work as a post-doctoral researcher in the Myeloma Research Laboratory where my research interests have centred on the role of the bone marrow microenvironment in the development and progression of Multiple Myeloma. I now lead research investigating mechanisms of relapse in paediatric B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
- My Research
- Grants and Funding
- Professional Activities
Overall research focus: Investigating the role of the bone marrow microenvironment in the development, progression and relapse of haematological malignancies
Project 1: Investigating mechanisms of relapse in childhood B-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemina (B-ALL)
B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (B-ALL) is the most common form of childhood cancer in Australia, accounting for approximately 27% of all cancers in children. Disease relapse, which occurs in 10-15% of paediatric patients, is the greatest cause of treatment failure, and is associated with a high mortality rate. Despite significant international efforts to identify children at high risk of relapse, many children still relapse and die from this disease.
It is widely understood that B-ALL cells “hijack” normal cellular processes within the bone marrow, where they reside to create an environment that supports ALL cells growth and protects tumour cells from chemotherapy. These chemotherapy-resistant ALL cells are the likely source of relapse.
Our group has recently identified a diagnostic gene signature in patient samples that can predict relapse. Within this gene signature, CKLF1, is highly expressed. To date, little is known about the function of CKLF1. My work is centred on uncovering the role CKLF1 plays in promoting B-ALL relapse and determining if specific targeting of CKLF1 may represent a viable therapeutic strategy to limit relapse.
Project 2: Identification of microenvironmental factors that drive multiple myeloma (MM) disease progression
Multiple Myeloma (MM) is a haematological malignancy, characterised by the uncontrolled proliferation of antibody producing plasma cells within the bone marrow (BM). MM is the second most common blood cancer, accounting for approximately 15% of all blood cancers in Australia. In recent years, significant advances have been made in the treatment of MM, however almost all patients will eventually relapse and succumb to their disease. Therefore, new ways of treating myeloma patients that improve their disease free survival and improve their quality of life are urgently needed.
Like ALL, MM develops almost exclusively within the BM wherein tumour cells interact with a wide range of accessory cells, including inflammatory and immune cells. Accessory cells within the BM have been well-documented to support the development and progression of MM, however the identity of the specific secreted factors present within the bone marrow microenvironment that are essential for the development of MM are currently unknown.
My research focusses on:
- Identifying and characterising a role for BM macrophages in MM disease development. My studies have already demonstrated a requirement for these innate immune cells in MM development in mouse models. Studies are continuing to define mechanisms of macrophage-mediated support of tumour growth and to identify key secreted factors that might be targeted to alter macrophage function.
- Identifying the role of the inflammatory enzyme, myeloperoxidase (MPO) in MM development. Our recent studies using animal models of MM suggest that inhibition of MPO can limit the progression of MM. Further studies will investigate the efficacy of a novel MPO inhibitor (which has already passed Phase I clinical studies) in treating MM while simultaneously teasing out the mechanisms employed by MPO to support MM tumour growth.
Date Position Institution name 2013 - ongoing Postdoctoral Fellow University of Adelaide 2012 - 2013 Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Grant Funded SA Pathology 2011 - 2012 Research Officer University of Adelaide
Awards and Achievements
Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount 2013 Fellowship Veronika Sacco Clinical Cancer Research Fellowship, Florey Foundation University of Adelaide Australia - 2013 Award School of Medical Sciences, University of Adelaide, Travel Grant University of Adelaide Australia - 2013 Award SAHMRI Beat Cancer Project Travel Grant South Australian Health & Medical Sciences Institute Australia -
Date Institution name Country Title 2008 - 2011 University of Adelaide Australia Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2007 - 2007 University of Adelaide Australia Bachelor of Health Science (Honours) First Class 2004 - 2006 University of Adelaide Australia Bachelor of Science (Biomedical Science)
Year Citation - Noll, J. E., Vandyke, K., & Zannettino, A. C. W. (n.d.). The Role of the “Cancer Stem Cell Niche” in Cancer Initiation and Progression. In Adult Stem Cell Niches. InTech.
2022-2024 Cancer Australia PdCCRS (My Room Children's Cancer Charity): Investigating mechanisms of relapse in high-risk paediatric acute lymphoblastic leukaemia $198,425 [CIA]
2021-2024 MRFF - Childhood Cancers: “Adolescents with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia: Focussing on the gut microbiota, its role in therapeutic response and potential as an adjunct therapeutic in this high-risk group” $1,292,871 [CIH]
2018-2020 NH&MRC Project Grant: Bone marrow macrophages: “Resident Evil” in the establishment and progression of multiple myeloma. $578,573 [CID]
I have co-supervised 4 Honours students (all awarded First Class Honours) in 2013, 2016, 2019 and 2020, 1 undergraduate placement student (2015) and 1 international intern (2015-16). I currently supervise 1 MPhil student and (co)supervise 2 PhD students. I have also been involved in daily mentoring and training of technical staff and PhD students (2012 - ).
Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)
Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name 2023 Principal Supervisor Investigating mechanisms of relapse in high-risk paediatric pre-B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Caleb Ben Lill 2021 Co-Supervisor The Role of Myeloperoxidase in Multiple Myeloma Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Connor Maxwell Douglas Williams 2021 Co-Supervisor Investigating the role of Gremlin1 in driving multiple myeloma cancer development and progression Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Emma Anna-Jane Cheney
Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)
Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name 2017 - 2021 Co-Supervisor Macrophages, Myeloma, Mouse Models and Methodologies Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mrs Khatora Shanae Opperman
Other Supervision Activities
Date Role Research Topic Location Program Supervision Type Student Load Student Name 2017 - ongoing Co-Supervisor Investigating the role of resident bone macrophages in Multiple Myeloma University of Adelaide Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Khatora Said 2016 - 2016 Co-Supervisor An insight into the myeloma niche: a novel role for bone marrow-resident macrophages in multiple myeloma University of Adelaide - Honours Full Time Khatora Said 2015 - 2016 Co-Supervisor Internship Saxion University of Applied Science, The Netherlands - Other Full Time Tamara Scheffer
Review, Assessment, Editorial and Advice
Date Title Type Institution Country 2018 - ongoing Manucsript Reviewer Peer Review OncoTargets and Therapy - 2016 - ongoing Manuscript Reviewer Peer Review Medical Oncology Australia 2016 - ongoing Manuscript Reviewer Peer Review Molecular Cancer Therapeutics and Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology Australia
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