Theresa Hickey

Dr Theresa Hickey

Senior Research Fellow - DRMCRL

Adelaide Medical School

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

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


Dr Hickey is a Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) Research Foundation Career Development Fellow at the Dame Rome Mitchell Cancer Research Laboratories (DRMCRL), School of Medicine, University of Adelaide. She was the single recipient of this highly competitive award. Dr Hickey was awarded a PhD in Medicine by the University of Adelaide in December 2006 for research on androgen receptor (AR) signalling in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), receiving the Vice Chancellor’s special commendation for contribution to field of study. Her work in the Research Centre for Reproductive Health at the University of Adelaide spanned more than 10 years, evolving through the positions of Senior Research Officer, PhD Student and early Post-Doctoral Scientist. During this time, Dr Hickey performed internationally recognized research on AR signalling in human ovarian tissues, with 4 highly cited (~300) publications arising from her PhD and a land-mark paper as senior author on PCOS published in the Lancet (2007; 410 citations; marked as a Highly Cited paper in Web of Science). Upon receipt of an NHMRC postdoctoral award in 2007, Dr Hickey transferred to the DRMCRL, where she continued work on ovarian biology and began work in human breast tissues. Dr Hickey’s current research focuses on AR signalling in human breast biology and breast cancer, funded up to 2020 by various awards including a highly competitive fellowship from the US DOD (achieving the highest score that year) and research grants from the NHMRC, Cancer Australia and National Breast Cancer Foundation, with continuous funding as a CI from 2007-2020. Dr Hickey’s innovative work in this area has attracted substantial national and international interest as evidenced by invited lectures, publications, and professional activities. From July 2012-Dec 2014, Dr Hickey was a visiting academic at Cancer Research UK, Cambridge Institute, performing collaborative work with A/Prof Jason Carroll, a world leader in molecular determinants of estrogen signalling in breast cancer. During this time, she developed expertise in contemporary techniques for whole genome interrogation of transcription factor chromatin binding (ChIPseq, Chipexo) and novel proteomic techniques to interrogate protein interactions (RIME; SILAC-RIME). To date, Dr Hickey has published 42 peer-reviewed manuscripts and 4 book chapters in her fields of research. Her ongoing collaboration with A/Prof Carroll’s laboratory in Cambridge has resulted in a recent Nature paper (2015), and co-authorship of a paper in Nature Genetics (2016) with another Cambridge colleague, Dr. Kerstin Meyer, both of which received extensive media coverage both nationally and internationally.

A major contribution to the field of breast cancer in the past 5 years has been application of a novel ex vivo culture technique that sustains architecture and functionality of clinical human breast tissues to (a) demonstrate the technique is a valuable preclinical model for evaluating new drugs (Cell Cycle, 2012); (b) demonstrate that the androgen receptor (AR) can inhibit estrogen receptor (ER)-mediated growth (Menopause, 2014);  (c) show that AR target therapy upregulates AR variants involved in therapy resistance (Oncotarget, 2015); (d) show that progestin inhibits estrogen-stimulated proliferation of primary ER+ breast tumours (Nature, 2015; considered the key evidence for clinical relevance of the study); (e) define an androgen-regulated transcriptome in normal and malignant breast tissues to identify AR biomarkers of response to AR target therapies (Nature; pending submission).  This work has led to considerable interest in using the ex vivo culture technique as a pre-clinical model in several different tumour types and invitations to speak worldwide.

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  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2015 - 2018 Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) Research Foundation 2015 Florey Fellow University of Adelaide
    2011 - 2015 US Department of Defence Breast Cancer Early Career Research Fellow University of Adelaide
    2007 - 2010 Peter Doherty NHMRC Post-doctoral Research Fellow (Academic Level B; Step 2) Interdisciplinary project between the Research Centre for Reproductive Healthy and the Department of
    2006 - 2006 Postdoctoral Research Scientist University of Adelaide
    1998 - 2006 Senior Research Officer University of Adelaide
    1997 - 1997 Research Officer University of Adelaide
    1991 - 1996 NHMRC Research Assistant Flinders University
  • Research Interests

CIC: NHMRC Project Grant (2017-2020); CIC: Cancer Australia Project Grant (2016-2018); Royal Adelaide Hospital Research Foundation Career Development Fellowship (2015-2017); CIB: NHMRC Project Grant (2015-2017); CIB: Cancer Australia project grant (2013-2015) CIA: US Department of Defence Breast Cancer Research Program Fellowship (2010-2014)

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

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2017 Principal Supervisor Role of the GATA3 transcription factor on AR signalling In ER-positive breast cancer Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mrs Leila HosseinZadeh
    2017 Principal Supervisor Androgen receptor co-regulators mediating the actions of selective androgen receptor modulators and dihydrotestosteron in TNBC Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mrs Ebtihal Hashem Mustafa
    2016 Co-Supervisor Unraveling the regulatory network underlying Androgen Deprivation Therapy- induced cancer stem cell traits in prostate cancer Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Rayzel Candida Fernandes
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2010 - 2016 Principal Supervisor The Role of Estrogen Receptor and the Androgen Receptor in Human Breast Cancer Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mrs Shalini Jindal
    2009 - 2013 Principal Supervisor Investigation into the Expression and Localisation of C-Kit and the Regulation of Kit Ligand Gene Expression in the Adult Human Ovary Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Astrud Tuck
    2008 - 2012 Principal Supervisor The Molecular Actions of Medroxyprogesterone Acetate on Androgen Receptor Signalling and the Promotion of Breast Cancer Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Aleksandra Ochnik
    2008 - 2012 Principal Supervisor The Role of Small Glutamine-Rich Tetratricopeptide Repeat Containing Protein Alpha in Female Reproductive Tissues Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Miriam Simone Butler
  • Position: Senior Research Fellow - DRMCRL
  • Phone: 83137858
  • Email: theresa.hickey@adelaide.edu.au
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences, floor 8
  • Room: WS8050.15
  • Org Unit: Medical Specialties

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