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Transforming Care

Medical Oncology: Cancer & Inflammation

Led by Dr Tara Roberts, the Cancer and Inflammation group has core interests in lung, brain and colorectal cancer, DNA damage responses, innate immunity, immunotherapy and liquid biopsy. The aim of our group is to identify biomarkers which can be used to personalise patient care but also understand the biology underlying how these biomarkers function. We utilise molecular and cellular biology, pre-clinical models and patient analysis and clinical trials to elucidate novel biological processes which can improve future patient treatment. A key interest is in the role of innate immune pathways is modulating cancer growth and responses to treatment.

  • Dr Alexander James
  • Dr Pei Ding
  • Marra Aghajani
  • Tess Lai
  • Dr Tamiem Adam
  • Dr Eunice Dai
  • Tara Chandaran
  • Sami Mubarek

  • Defining predictive biomarker signatures for NSCLC immunotherapy response via liquid biopsy.
  • DNA damage and induced inflammation as predictive biomarkers for response to systemic therapy and survival outcomes in colorectal cancer.
  • Understanding the molecular mechanisms linking DNA damage and inflammation.
  • Examining the immunotherapy and immune responses in thyroid cancer.
  • Analysis of the roles of PI3-Kinase like kinases in cancer and neurodegeneration
  • The role of RNA quality control pathways in regulation of inflammation

  • Identification of novel roles for SMG1 in stress responses, cancer susceptibility and inflammation.
  • Identification of DNA damage driven inflammation as a contributor to neurodegeneration and cancer progression.
  • Characterisation of pathways linking PD-L1, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and mTOR signalling
  • Attracted >$6M in project and equipment funding since laboratory established mid-2014.

  • Abstract awarded the T.S. Reeve Award for Best Basic Science Research Paper at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) Annual Scientific Congress, Bangkok, Thailand.
  • Australian Lung Cancer Trials Group ‘Best Young Investigator’ – Dr Pei Ding
  • Ingham Institute Higher Degree Research Student of the year 2019 – Marra Aghajani
  • Winner in the Video Category at the Western Sydney University Higher Degree Research Showcase.
  • Thomas Ashworth Liquid Biopsy Symposium Most Outstanding student presentation – Dr Pei Ding
  • Finalist of the American Thyroid Association Trainee Poster Contest 2018

  • Pei N Ding, Therese M Becker, Victoria J Bray, Wei Chua, YaFeng Ma, David Lynch, Joseph Po, Alison WS Luk, Nicole Caixeiro, Paul de Souza, Tara L Roberts. (2019) A prospective study on the predictive and prognostic significance of liquid biopsy in patients with advanced epidermal growth factor receptor-mutated (EGFR+) non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Lung Cancer 134, 187-193
  • Uda Ho, John Luff, Alexander James, C Soon Lee, Hazel Quek, Hui-Chi Lai, Simon Apte, Yi Chieh Lim, Martin F Lavin, Tara L Roberts. SMG1 heterozygosity exacerbates haematopoietic cancer development in Atm null mice by increasing persistent DNA damage and oxidative stress. Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine. 23(12):8151-60.
  • Lim YC, Quek H, Offenhäuser C, Lavin MF, Roberts TL*, Day B*. (2018) ‘ATM Inhibition Prevents Interleukin-6 from Contributing to the Proliferation of Glioma Initiating Cells after Ionizing Radiation.’ Journal of Neuro-Oncology. 138(3):509-518 *joint senior authorship
  • Marra Jai Aghajani, Adam Cooper, Helen McGuire, Thomas Jeffries, Jawad Saab, Kasim Ismail, Paul de Souza, Victoria Bray, Barbara Fazekas de St Groth, Navin Niles, Tara Laurine Roberts. (2019) Pembrolizumab for anaplastic thyroid cancer: a case study. Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy. 68(12)1921-34.
  • Hui-Chi Lai, Alexander James, John Luff, Paul De Souza, Hazel Quek, Uda Ho, Martin F. Lavin, Tara L. Roberts. Regulation of RNA degradation pathways during the LPS response in macrophages. Journal of Leukocyte Biology.  (Accepted 27/5/20)


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