Melissa Cantley

Dr Melissa Cantley

NHMRC Early Career Research Fellow

Adelaide Medical School

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.


In 2006, Melissa completed a Bachelor of Health Sciences at the University of Adelaide followed by Honours (First Class) in Pathology in 2007. To expand on her knowledge in the area of localized pathological bone loss she worked as an NHMRC funded Research Assistant for two years. During this time Melissa helped establish a number of animal models of pathogenic bone loss, including periodontitis, rheumatoid arthritis and peri-implant osteolysis. Additional to this she optimized quantitative methods to assess bone loss using live micro CT scanning.

Melissa completed her PhD (October 2013) within the Discipline of Anatomy and Pathology, School of Medical Sciences at the University of Adelaide with the support of an Australian Postgraduate Award. Her research was undertaken in the Bone and Joint Laboratory with the supervision of Associate Professor David Haynes and Professor Mark Bartold. The overall aim of her PhD project was to investigate novel treatments of localized bone loss in chronic inflammatory diseases such as periodontitis, rheumatoid arthritis and prosthetic osteolysis.

In 2013 and 2014 Melissa worked as the Research Projects Coordintor, and Learning and Teaching Support Officer in the School of Medical Sciences. Melissa commenced her NHMRC Peter Doherty Early Career Fellowship in June 2014 under the supervision and mentorship of Professor Andrew Zannettino. Dr Cantley is now applying her extensive bone biology knowledge and experience to the area of the haematological malignancy multiple myeloma. She is focussing on understanding bone changes and their role in progression from pre-malignancy to active myeloma.

1. Regulation of bone loss by targeting Histone Deacetylases in periodontitis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Bone loss is a complication of inflammatory diseases periodontitis (PD) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This bone loss can lead to tooth loss in periodontitis and impaired joint function in rheumatoid arthritis. In these diseases, the osteoclasts, the bone degrading cells, play a significant role in contributing to this bone loss. My research is focussed on targeting Histone Deacetylase (HDAC) enzymes found in all cells in the body that play an important role in regulating gene and protein expression. The aim of my research is to understand the roles of individual HDAC enzymes in the disease processes in order to identify novel HDAC inhibitors that can that target the specific enzymes involved in the diseases reducing the activity of osteoclast cells and stimulating osteoblasts to form bone resulting in an overall reduction in bone loss.

2. Understanding the role of the bone microenvironment in the progression of pre-malignancies monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) and smouldering myeloma to active myeloma. Identifying bone biomarkers of those patients at high risk of progression to myeloma.

Up to 80% of patients who have myeloma are affected by myeloma bone disease, which leads to holes in the bone and associated bone pain and risk of fractures. This occurs as a result of complex interactions and communications between the myeloma plasma cells and the cells in their surrounding environment of the bone marrow, referred to as the microenvironment. In almost all cases of multiple myeloma, patients have the presence of a pre-cancerous stage known as monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) and/or smoldering myeloma (SMM). Some patients with smouldering myeloma have stable disease long-term whilst one quarter of patients will rapidly progress to develop myeloma within 2 years of diagnosis. These pre-cancerous stages are recognized as being symptom free and hence patients are closely monitored but do not receive treatment. The presence of bone lesions is not commonly seen in MGUS and smouldering myeloma patients but some research suggests that there is abnormal bone changes that make a patient more susceptible to bone fractures. My research interests focus around understanding these bone changes in pre-cancerous stages and how they may contribute to the progression of malignant myeloma. 

Fellowships and Scholarships

Cantley MD NHMRC Peter Doherty Early Career Fellowship. The effect of histone deacetylase inhibitors on the bone environment in multiple myeloma. ($304,596) (2014-2021).

Cantley MD School of Medical Sciences ‘Kick Start’ Grant Funding $24,950 (2014)

Cantley MD. Group of Eight (G08) supported Fellowship to attend the 64th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting June/July $6000 (2014)

Cantley MD. University of Adelaide Fellowship to attend Science in the Dome Event May $500 (2014)

Cantley MD Australian Postgraduate Award ($67,500) (2010-2012)

Grants

Cantley MD, Haynes DR, Bartold PM, Marino V. Australian Dental Research Foundation Grant, The role of acetylation and Histone Deacetylase 1 (HDAC1) in the relationship between periodontitis and rheumatoid arthritis ($12,762) (2015)

Algate K, Cantley MD, Haynes DR, Bartold PM, Australian Dental Research Foundation Grant, The Effects of Resolvins and Lipoxins on Inflammation Associated Human Osteoclast and Osteoblast activity in vitro ($10,000) (2015)

Haynes DR, Bartold PM, Cantley MD (CIC), NHMRC Project Grant, HDAC 1 and HDAC 5 in periodontitis, ($518,901) (2014-2017).

Cantley MD, Haynes DR, Bartold PM, Marino V, Australian Dental Research Foundation Grant, Targeting HDAC 1 to suppress bone loss in vitro and in a mouse model of periodontitis. $11,813 (2012)

Haynes DR, Bartold PM, Marino V, Cantley MD. Australian Dental Research Foundation Grant, Establishing a mouse model to investigate the relationship between PD and RA  $11,637 (2010)

Undergraduate Teaching and Lecturing

Lecturing

2018                            Dental Science and Practice 1 Semester 1: 1x connective tissue lecture Semester 2: 3x cartilage and bone lectures.

2016                            Dental Science and Practice 1 (3x guest lectures, Bone and cartilage structure, function and growth)

                                    Biology of Disease (1x guest lecture, multiple myeloma)

2015                            Dental Science and Practice 1 (1x guest lectures, connective tissues)

2014                            Dental Science and Practice 1 (3x guest lectures, Bone and cartilage structure, function and growth)

2014                            Bachelor of Health Sciences - Biology of Disease (Bone and Joint Diseases)

2013                            Bachelor of Health Sciences - Biology of Disease (Bone and Joint Diseases)

2013                            Bachelor of Health Sciences - Human Biology IB (Research and Science Promotion)

2011                            Bachelor of Health Sciences - Biology Bridging Course

2008                            Bachelor of Dental Surgery Biochemistry course

 

Small group and Tutorials

2018                            Small Group Discovery Projects (Bachelor of Health Sciences), Semester 1, Group Leader

2018                            Integrated Learning Activities (ILA) Review session - Dental Science and Practice 1

2016                            Small Group Discovery Projects (Biology of Disease), Group Leader

2016                            Integrated Learning Activities (ILA) Review session - Dental Science and Practice 1

2015                            Supervision of 3rd year Physiology in Action students – laboratory based research project

2014                            Small Group Discovery Projects (Human Biology IB), Group Leader

2014                            Small Group Discovery Projects (Health Sciences - Biology of Disease), Group Leader

2013                            Small Group Discovery Projects (Health Sciences - Human Biology IB), Group Leader

2012                            Supervised small group research projects (Health Sciences - Structural Cell Biology)

2010-2014                   Undergraduate tutor in School of Dentistry - Integrated learning activities (ILA) for first year Bachelor of Dental Surgery 1 research review sessions and large group sessions, 2010

2010-2014                   School of Medical Sciences (Human Biology IA and IB, Cells, Tissues and Development (second year), Cells and Tissues (second year), Cells and Tissues (second year).

2010                            Bachelor of Dental Surgery 2 - Biochemistry, Problem based learning (PBL) sessions.

  • Position: NHMRC Early Career Research Fellow
  • Phone: 81284694
  • Email: melissa.cantley@adelaide.edu.au
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: SAHMRI - South, floor 5
  • Org Unit: Medical Sciences

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