Cancer Neuroscience

Dr Lachlan Harris

Team Head

The Cancer Neuroscience Lab aims to translate insights from fundamental neuroscience research and apply these to brain cancer, with a particular interest in glioblastoma, which is the most common malignant primary brain tumour in adults and has a median survival of just 15-months after diagnosis. At the core of The Cancer Neuroscience lab is a focus on researching cellular quiescence, a reversible hibernation-like state, adopted by brain cancer cells to evade chemotherapy and radiotherapy. By targeting these quiescent cells, we might overcome treatment resistance and improve outcomes for persons with glioblastoma. To identify novel therapeutic approaches to target quiescence, the lab also focuses on understanding how quiescence is regulated in normal neural stem cells in the memory centres of our brains.

Current Research

  • Brain cancer – targeting treatment resistant, quiescent cancer stem cell populations through direct targeting, reactivation or suppression strategies.
  • Modelling – determining the most effective approaches (direct targeting, reactivation, suppression) to target treatment resistant, quiescent cancer stem cell populations.
  • Metabolism – its impact on quiescent brain cancer stem cells and normal adult neural stem cell populations.
  • Normal adult neural stem cell quiescence – identifying novel regulators, with a focus on calcium binding proteins.
  • Dysfunction of adult neural stem cell quiescence during the aging process, and its possible role in cognitive disorders such as depression and anxiety.

Staff

  • Dr Lachlan Harris, Team Head 
  • Chandra Choudhury, Research Officer
  • Dana Friess, PhD Student
  • Laura Fenlon, Visiting Scientist
  • Matthew Singleton, Research Assistant

Internal Collaborators

External Collaborators

  • Francois Guillemot (The Francis Crick Institute)
  • Michael Piper (The University of Queensland)
  • Dr Rita Sousa-Nunes (Kings College London)
  • Anna Marciniak-Czochra (Heidelberg University)
  • Dr Thomas Stiehl (Heidelberg University)
  • Associate Professor Louise Cheng (Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre)

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the following funding agencies:

  • NHMRC Investigator grant scheme
  • NHMRC Ideas grant scheme

STUDENT PROJECTS

Improving survival for adult brain cancer patients by targeting ‘sleeping’ cancer stem cells

Multiple projects available to suit Honours or PhD students Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common malignant primary brain tumour in adults and is inevitably fatal, with a median survival of just 15-months after diagnosis. Standard treatment involves surgical resection, postoperative radiation and chemotherapy. Unfortunately, significant populations of resistant glioma stem cells remain after chemotherapy, these […]

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Should I stay, or should I go? How brain stem cells decide to leave quiescence

Multiple projects available to suit Honours or PhD students Quiescence is a type of reversible cell-cycle arrest displayed by many resident tissue stem cell populations, which helps to ensure we have a lifelong population of stem cells to maintain tissue homeostasis, respond to injury and other stimuli. One region where these stem cells exist is […]

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