Gastrointestinal cancers, including bowel, oesophageal, stomach and pancreas cancer, collectively are the most common cause of cancer death in Australia. Our research is focused on supportive cells, known as cancer-associated fibroblasts. Gastrointestinal cancers exploit normal surrounding cells to help promote their growth and spread. We generate experimental cancer models in the laboratory as well as analyse human samples to ask where cancer-associated fibroblasts come from, what do they do and how can they be stopped?
What we aim to achieve
We aim to develop stromal-targeted treatments, used in combination with other chemotherapeutics, to stop cancer growth and spread. We have learnt from other complex diseases that treatments are often more efficacious when one targets several different mechanisms at once. We believe that by targeting the cancer-associated fibroblasts we will enhance the benefit of existing treatments for gastrointestinal cancers, particularly in managing the cancer cells most resistant to traditional treatments.
Our next steps and milestones
My lab has only just started. The key milestones for my research in the next 12 months are;
- Develop an Australia wide live bank of human normal and neoplastic colon
- Validate our orthotopic and transgenic preclinical models of colorectal cancer
- Test the essential molecular steps in the development of serrated colorectal cancers
What motivates me
Firstly, I’m motivated by the opportunity to be creative. Medical science provides great freedom to directly develop and test new ideas, tools, and therapies. Secondly, a hard problem provides a rich community of friends and colleagues. For me, work has always been fun because of the friends that I’ve met and for the talented people that I get to work with everyday. But foremost, we’re motivated to help our patients and loved ones that have, and will, suffer from cancer.
My message to supporters
We love our job. Being a physician-scientist involved in cancer research is fascinating and thrilling. But, we never lose sight of our mission, which is no less than to cure cancer. It is a high bar, but the only relevant arbiter of success. We work hard to develop new ways to achieve this both incrementally as well as, when possible, through major advances. My team and I are enormously grateful for your support, and we understand our responsibility to you all. Thank you.