- 6 June 2017
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Tuesday 6 June, 1.00 pm
Auditorium, Level 6, Bancroft, QIMR Berghofer
Cancer Biology to Nanomedicine-based Therapeutics
Professor Maria Kavallaris
Program Head, Tumour Biology & Targeting Program, Children’s Cancer Institute
Director, Australian Centre for NanoMedicine, UNSW Australia
Cancer remains a significant clinical problem and is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in society. It is well established that development of resistance to therapy is a major clinical challenge and elucidating the mechanisms that underlie drug resistance is essential if we are to develop solutions and new more effective therapies. The propensity of solid tumours to metastasise to distant organs poses a major barrier to cure, since metastatic cancer cells are often refractory to therapy. For both childhood and adult cancers it is imperative that we develop ways of more effectively treating malignancies that are refractory to standard therapies. The microtubule cytoskeleton is often disrupted in cancer and we have shown that this system mediates drug resistance, tumorigenesis and metastasis. Recent studies from our laboratory have revealed key roles for specific microtubule proteins in cell survival signalling pathways. Given the challenges in targeting specific microtubule proteins with small molecule agents, we have been developing nanoparticles to deliver siRNA/miRNA and chemotherapeutic drugs to overcome resistance and reduce the toxic side effects of conventional chemotherapy.
Professor Maria Kavallaris is Head of the Tumour Biology and Targeting Program at Children’s Cancer Institute and Director of the Australian Centre for NanoMedicine at UNSW Sydney. Her research contributions are internationally regarded and include identifying the mechanisms of action and resistance to anticancer drugs, discovering new protein interactions in cancer and the development of less toxic cancer therapies using nanotechnology.
Professor Kavallaris has held numerous competitive fellowships. She is a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Principal Research Fellow and Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences (AAHMS). Her research contributions have been recognised by international and national awards and prizes including an International Agency for Research on Cancer Fellowship, an American Association for Cancer Research Women in Cancer Research Award, a Young Tall Poppy Award and an Australian Museum Eureka Prize. Her broader impact and contributions were recognised by her being selected for The Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence Award 2015 and the Knowledge Nation 100 innovation leaders.
Professor Kavallaris’s research is supported by competitive research funding from diverse agencies including the NHMRC Program Grant, Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Convergent Bio-Nano Science and Technology and Cancer Council. She has served on numerous international and national committees including the Program and Fellowship Committees for the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. She is Chair of the Board of the Australian Institute for Policy and Science and has played a major role in advocating medical research through public outreach. She has served as President of the Australian Society for Medical Research (ASMR) and was recognised by the NHMRC in 2014 as an Australian ‘high achiever’ in health and medical research. Professor Kavallaris was appointed by the Federal Minister for Health to serve on the NHMRC Research Committee where she contributes to high level research policy.