Research Fellow (B) (with PhD)
Adelaide Medical School
Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences
Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.
Dr Zeyad Nassar is a NHMRC Early Career Fellow in the Adelaide Medical School at the University of Adelaide. He graduated with a BSc in Pharmacy from the University of Applied Sciences in Jordan in 2007, a MSc in Pharmacology from the University of Science Malaysia in 2011 and a PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Queensland in 2015. He enjoyed a stellar undergraduate career, graduating in the top 3 Bachelor of Pharmacy students from the University of Applied Sciences in Jordan and making the University and Dean’s Honours Lists 7 times. He also won the Best Thesis Award from the University of Science Malaysia for his Masters Thesis. He has been funded by scholarships and fellowships throughout all stages of his research career, since commencing his Masters in 2010 to his current NHMRC Early Career Fellowship (2018-21). Dr Nassar has published 40 articles and 1 book chapter to date, 13 as first author and 3 as senior author.
Dr Nassar's research interests include prostate cancer, lipid metabolism and drug discovery.
Over the past 10 years of my postgraduate degrees and postdoctoral training, I have developed diverse experiences in cancer research including developing novel angiogenesis modulators for colon and breast cancer, deciphering the role of lipid raft proteins in prostate cancer progression, investigating the potential interplay between opioid analgesia and breast tumor metastasis, inspecting the role of lipid raft proteins in glioblastoma in responding to interstitial fluid pressure and tumor invasiveness, and finally lipid biology and metabolism in prostate cancer.
Since 2016, I have developed a deep interest in elucidating lipid metabolism and membrane lipid roles in the regulation of processes linked to aggressive and treatment resistant prostate cancer behaviors and investigating their potential for therapeutic targeting. My ultimate goal is to perform research that impacts patients’ lives. I have been funded by scholarships and fellowships throughout all stages of my research career. During my MSc and PhD degrees, I built extensive basic science expertise and employed multiple preclinical models focused on drug discovery and development for cancer. My MSc degree demonstrated the antiangiogenic activities of natural/synthetic products in colon and breast cancers. This work led to 1 patent for the natural product koetjapic acid, and 2 clinical trials for the natural product Nuvastatic™ (NCT04552600, NCT04546607). My PhD at The University of Queensland (UQ) studied 2 transmembrane proteins that form a special type of lipid rafts called caveolae. This work resulted in 5 first-author articles in high quality journals (Nature Reviews Urology and International Review of Cell and Molecular Biology, Oncotarget).
To achieve my goal of running a more translational research program, I relocated in 2016 to the University of Adelaide to work in a highly translational research group experienced in patient-derived models, biobanking, “bench to bedside” research and clinical trials. In prostate cancer (PCa), fatty acid oxidation (FAO) plays a crucial role in fueling disease initiation and progression. My research activities have provided strong evidence that PCa cells exhibit increased FAO compared to non-malignant cells and showed that clinical PCa is amenable to FAO targeting. I provided the first clinically relevant evidence, using patient-derived prostate tumor explants, that targeting FAO in prostate cancer is efficacious. In addition, I showed that activated FAO pathways mediate drug resistance and demonstrated that targeting FAO sensitizes PCa to novel drug treatments. I identified DECR1, which catalyzes the rate-limiting step in an auxiliary pathway for poly unsaturated fatty acid β-oxidation, as a previously unrecognized androgen-repressed and anti-ferroptosis enzyme in PCa cells and found its expression to be correlated with disease progression. This work provided a novel opportunity to target a selective class of fatty acids (with likely less toxicity), rather than shutting down FAO of all classes. My current projects:
1) Develop selective inhibitors against DECR1, this will be the first-in-field specific inhibitor for PUFA oxidation.
2) Investigate the epigenetic role of FAO in modulating gene expression to support PCa progression and treatment resistance.
3) Repurpose clinically-approved FAO inhibitors for PCa treatment.
4) Decipher the role of mitochondria dynamic proteins in PCa progression, and investigate the potential of targeting.
Date Position Institution name 2018 - 2021 NHMRC Early Career Fellow University of Adelaide, Adelaide 2016 - 2017 Postdoctoral research scientist University of Adelaide 2015 - 2015 Postdoctoral research fellow University of Queensland
Date Institution name Country Title 2012 - 2015 University of Queensland Australia PhD 2009 - 2011 Universiti Sains Malaysia Malaysia MSc 2003 - 2007 Applied Science Private University Jordan BSc Pharmacy
Year Citation 2016 Nassar, Z., & Parat, M. (2016). Cavin Family: New Players in the Biology of Caveolae. In Kwang Jeon (Ed.), International Review of Cell and Molecular Biology (Vol. 320, pp. 235-305). United Kingdom: Elsevier.
DOI Scopus31 WoS33 Europe PMC19
Year Citation 2017 Nassar, Z. D., Centenera, M. M., Machiels, J., Polacek, S. J., Bloch, K., Tilley, W. D., . . . Butler, L. (2017). Lipid elongation: an unexplored therapeutic target in prostate cancer. In CANCER RESEARCH Vol. 77 (pp. 2 pages). Washington, DC: AMER ASSOC CANCER RESEARCH.
Year Citation 2020 Shrestha, R. K., Townley, S., Hanson, A., Pickering, M., Nassar, Z. D., Mah, C. Y., . . . Selth, L. A. (2020). ACSM1 and ACSM3 regulate fatty acid oxidation in prostate cancer to promote growth and protect against oxidative stress.. Poster session presented at the meeting of CANCER RESEARCH. ELECTR NETWORK: AMER ASSOC CANCER RESEARCH. 2020 Butler, L. M., Mah, C. Y., Dehairs, J., Vincent, A., Mutuku, S., Spotbeen, X., . . . Swinnen, J. (2020). Phospholipid profiling of clinical prostate tissues reveals targetable alterations in membrane lipid composition accompanying tumorigenesis. Poster session presented at the meeting of CANCER RESEARCH. ELECTR NETWORK: AMER ASSOC CANCER RESEARCH.
2020 Mah, C. Y., Nassar, Z. D., Burvenich, I. J., Irani, S., Centenera, M. M., Moldovan, M., . . . Butler, L. M. (2020). DECR1: The rate limiting enzyme of polyunsaturated fatty acid metabolism and a novel therapeutic target in prostate cancer. Poster session presented at the meeting of CANCER RESEARCH. ELECTR NETWORK: AMER ASSOC CANCER RESEARCH.
2018 Nassar, Z. D., Centenera, M. M., Machiels, J., Zinonos, I., Hanson, A., Bloch, K., . . . Swinnen, J. V. (2018). Lipid elongation in prostate cancer is androgen regulated and a potential therapeutic target. Poster session presented at the meeting of BJU International. Brisbane, Australia: Wiley. 2016 Nassar, Z. D., Centenera, M. M., Machiels, J., Polacek, S. J., Bloch, K., Tilley, W. D., . . . Swinnen, J. V. (2016). Androgenic regulation of lipid elongation in prostate cancer. Poster session presented at the meeting of BJU International. Melbourne: Wiley.
Year Citation 2013 Nassar, Z., ABDUL MAJID, Amin Malik Shah., ABU-SALAH, Khalid M., ISMAIL, Zhari., AHAMED, Mohamed Khadeer., AISHA, Abdalrahim F.A., . . . ABDUL MAJID, Aman Shah. (2013). WO2013028051, Composition comprising Sandoricum koetjape extracts and uses thereof. PCT.
- The Hospital Research Foundation- Australia Prostate Cancer (2020)
- Cure Cancer Australia-Priority-driven Collaborative Cancer Research Scheme (2019).
- NHMRC Early Career Fellowship (2018-21)
- Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia John Mills Young Investigator Award (2018-19)
- The University of Adelaide: Emerging Leadership Mentored Development Program (2018-19)
- Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences Research Infrastructure Funding Awards (2018)
- Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men's Health Postdoctoral Fellowship.
- Beat Project Travel Grant (2016).
- European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Preceptorship Meeting Travel grant (2015).
- European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) translational research unit visit fellowship (2015).
- Cancer Council Queensland Travel Grant (2014).
- School of Pharmacy, University of Queensland, Travel Grant (2014).
- International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (IPRS) (2012-2015).
- University of Queensland Centenary Scholarship (2012-2015).
- University of Sciences Malaysia fellowship (2010-2011).
Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)
Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name 2021 Principal Supervisor The role of MFN2 in Prostate Cancer Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Elizabeth Hannah Collis 2019 Co-Supervisor Androgen Regulation of Lipid Metabolism Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Julia Steele Scott
Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)
Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name 2018 - 2021 Co-Supervisor Targeting fatty acid metabolism in prostate cancer Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Chui Yan Mah
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