Our People

Georgia Chenevix-Trench

Professor | Senior Scientist | Coordinator of the Genetics & Computational Biology Department | Head of Cancer Genetics

Cancer Genetics

+61 7 3362 0390

georgia.trench@qimrberghofer.edu.au

 

CAREER HISTORY

Professor Chenevix-Trench completed her PhD at the Medical College of Virginia (USA) in 1985 and came to QIMR Berghofer for a post-doc the following year. She established her own lab in 1992 when she received an NHMRC R. Douglas Wright award and has been continually funded by the NHMRC Fellowship scheme.

 

CURRENT APPOINTMENTS

  • NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow
  • Head, Cancer Genetics Laboratory, QIMR Berghofer
  • Coordinator, Department of Genetics and Computational Biology
  • Senior Scientist, QIMR Berghofer
  • Honorary Professor, School of Medicine, University of Queensland

 

PREVIOUS APPOINTMENTS

2007: NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow, Queensland Institute of Medical Research

2004-2006: NHMRC Principal Research Fellow, Queensland Institute of Medical Research

1999-2003: NHMRC Senior Research Fellow, Queensland Institute of Medical Research

1996-1998: NHMRC Research Fellow, Queensland Institute of Medical Research

1992-1995: NHMRC R. Douglas Wright Fellow, Queensland Institute of Medical Research

1989-1991: Research Officer in the joint QIMR-University of Queensland Oncology Program

1986-1989: Research Officer, Queensland Institute of Medical Research

1986: Post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Human Genetics, Medical College of Virginia, USA

 

ORCID NUMBER

0000-0002-1878-2587

 

RESEARCHER ID

G-8489-2014

 

CURRENT AREA OF RESEARCH

The Cancer Genetics Laboratory investigates why some people get breast cancer and how these cancers develop from a normal cell.  Using genome wide association studies (GWAS), the lab has identified over 200 breast cancer risk loci. Through extensive in vitro assays, Professor Chenevix-Trench’s team and collaborators have successfully identified some of the target genes at several of these loci.

The functional mechanism behind the associations usually involves perturbed regulation of target gene transcription by risk single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) lying in regulatory elements positioned some distance from the target. The nearest gene to the GWAS ‘hit’ is not necessarily the target of the association, and for some loci there are multiple gene targets. We have developed a pipeline (INQUISIT – integrated expression quantitative trait and in silico prediction of GWAS targets) for predicting target genes at GWAS hits but the challenge of functionally interrogating each risk locus to identify the target gene(s) is enormous.

With Dr Sefi Rosenbluh at Monash University, the team is currently performing large scale pooled CRISPR knockout and activation screens of all the predicted target coding and non-coding genes at these loci to identify novel breast cancer risk genes, using assays to identify genes that impact on proliferation, anchorage independence, senescence, tumorigenicity and immunosurveillance.  In addition, they are exploring opportunities for drug repositioning from knowledge of the GWAS target genes for prevention and treatment of breast cancer.

 

RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS

  • initiated the research in Australia that led to the discovery of the PTCH gene responsible for Nevoid Basal Cell Carcinoma Syndrome
  • collaborated with Dr Kum Kum Khanna to elucidate the role of the ATM gene as a breast cancer risk gene
  • founder/leader of multiple international consortia, discovering more than 200 genetic loci associated with risk of breast or ovarian cancer
  • led functional follow up of the breast cancer risk loci to identify the target genes and more recently developed an algorithm, INQUISIT, to predict these genes
  • led transcriptome-wide association studies and shown that some identified genes regulate growth of breast cell lines and others are targets only in immune cells

 

PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS

  • Australia and New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group
  • National Association of Research Fellows
  • Human Genetics Society of Australasia
  • American Society of Human Genetics

 

AWARDS RECOGNITION

2015

  • Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences

2014                      

  • National Breast Cancer Foundation Patron’s Award for Innovation and Vision in Research
  • NHMRC High Achiever in Australian Health and Medical Research
  • Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science

2007

  • Ralph Doherty QIMR Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Medical Research

2006                     

  • Sutherland Lecture (Human Genetics Society of Australasia), at the International Congress of Human Genetics, Brisbane

 

EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND

1985: Medical College of Virginia, USA – PhD

1980: Trinity College, Dublin – BA (Hons)