Dr | Research Officer+61 7 3845 3913
After getting my Bachelor of Applied Science with Honours from the Queensland University of Technology in 1996, I worked as a research assistant at both QUT and UQ until 2013 when I left Australia and went to work in Malaysia. I moved to Malaysia to follow my wife and got a job as a research associate at Cancer Research Malaysia, which is a small non-profit organisation that works on mainly breast and oral cancers. After two and a half years of working there, my wife’s bond with the government was over and we decided to return to Australia where I got a position at QIMR Berghofer in the laboratory of Professor Frank Gannon. I worked as a senior research assistant for two years until Professor Gannon retired and I continued my work under Associate Professor Jason Lee. In July of 2018, I started my PhD through the University of Queensland, but still at QIMR Berghofer in Associate Professor Lee’s laboratory titled The Role of Epigenetic Modifiers in Melanoma. In August 2021, after finishing my PhD and submitting my thesis, I went to work for Dr Bill Dougall initially as a research assistant, until my PhD was finally awarded in May 2022, when I was upgraded to research officer. Dr Dougall’s laboratory is also at QIMR Berghofer and works on RANK signaling in immunotherapy response where I am currently employed.
Immunotherapy has revolutionised the way cancer is treated, producing potent and durable clinical responses in some patients. However, despite these successes, response rates are highly variable and approximately half of all patients show little or no response. Therefore, there remains an existing need to define new mechanisms to identify drug targets (and repurposed drugs) that can be used to improve response rates in non-responding patients. The search for the underlining mechanism of action has been limited by our incomplete understanding of how immunotherapies modify the already complex immune response to cancer. To date, most studies of immunotherapy response have concentrated on the expression of immune markers on the tumour and the proximal tumour microenvironment.
It is understood that the immune response to tumour neoantigens begins at the regional lymph nodes and very recent studies have highlighted the more distal role of the tumour draining lymph node in immunotherapy response. In contrast to most immunotherapy mechanistic studies, my current studies have focused on understanding the mechanism of action that leads to the recruitment and activation of the cytotoxic T Lymphocytes from the lymph node to the tumour using syngeneic mouse models and a novel live LN ex-vivo explant platform. Through this approach, we will gain a better understanding of the role the lymph nodes play in the immune system and how, by manipulating the immune landscape through combination drug treatments, we can increase the response to these immunotherapies and improve patient outcomes.