Conjoint Gastroenterology

The Conjoint Gastroenterology Laboratory studies the molecular genetic alterations which underlie the progression of benign bowel polyps to bowel cancer.  It has a particular interest in serrated polyps which were previously thought to have no malignant potential but are now recognised to be the precursors of approximately 20% of bowel cancers.  This work has led to profound changes in the practice of colonoscopy so that it now better protects against bowel cancer.  The laboratory has now developed an animal model of the serrated pathway and are testing chemoprevention strategies.  The bowel cancers which arise through the serrated pathway often carry an oncogenic BRAF mutation and develop DNA methylation silencing important genes such as mismatch repair genes.  These characteristics are important in predicting prognosis and response to chemotherapy and this is also a focus of our research programme.  Collaboration with gastroenterologists, surgeons, pathologists and oncologists is a key aspect of its research.


  • molecular alterations causing progression of the serrated polyp to colorectal cancer and better identification of high risk polyps
  • utilising a mouse model to understand the association of BRAF mutation with DNA methylation in the serrated neoplastic pathway and as a pre-clinical model of chemoprevention strategies
  • discovering further genetic changes underlying different subtypes of colorectal cancer which may enable improved chemotherapy options
  • understanding clonal heterogeneity in primary and metastatic colorectal cancers


  • Dr Catherine Bond, Research Officer
  • Diane McKeone, Scientific Technical Officer
  • Dr Jennifer Borowsky, PhD Student
  • Alexandra Kane, PhD Student
  • Lochlan Fennell, PhD Student
  • Emma Sievwright, PhD Student
  • Chang Su, Honours Student
  • Professor Barbara Leggett, Clinical Affiliate
  • Dr John Liu, Clinical Affiliate
  • Dr Mark Bettington, Clinical Affiliate

Internal Collaborators

External Collaborators

  • A/Prof Neal Walker, Envoi Specialist Pathologists
  • Dr Ian Brown, Envoi Specialist Pathologists
  • A/Prof Christophe Rosty, Envoi Specialist Pathologists
  • Dr Matthew Burge, Cancer Care Services, RBWH
  • A/Prof David Wyld, Cancer Care Services, RBWH
  • A/Prof Melissa Eastgate Burge, Cancer Care Services, RBWH
  • A/Prof Daniel Worthley, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute
  • Dr Susan Woods, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute
  • Prof John Mariadason, Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute
  • Prof Shuji Ogino, Dana-Faber Cancer Institute, USA
  • Prof Akinobu Taketomi, Hokkaido University, Japan
  • National Health and Medical Research Council
  • Cancer Council Queensland
  • Gastroenterological Society of Australia
  • RBWH Foundation
  • Pathology Queensland