Prof Sudha Rao has extensive experience in transcriptional biology and genomic technologies that spans both pharmaceutical and academic settings. The primary focus of Sudha’s research group has been to unravel complex epigenetic-signatures in the immune system, as well as to understand the deregulatory mechanisms operating in cancer settings. She has obtained her BSC (Hons.) degree at Keele University, UK. PhD from the University of London, Kings College in 2000. During this period, she joined a team of scientists at Rhone Poulenc/Sanofi Pharma, both in UK and France. During this time, she was part of one of the first groups world-wide to establish the clinical genomics platform for therapeutics in the UK.
Sudha has developed close partnerships with global technology companies and established novel liquid biopsy clinical platforms, first of its kind in Asia, for non-invasive tracking of blood samples from cancer patients. She has attracted highly competitive NHMRC, ARC and commercial funding to advance her cancer work. Sudha’s work has yielded national and international patents for both novel diagnostics and therapeutics in the emerging arena of immune-oncology and this work has great potential for cancer patients.
Current QIMR Berghofer appointment
- 2019-Current: Group Leader, Gene Regulation and Translational Medicine Laboratory
Other current appointments
- 2019-Current: Associate Professor, University of Queensland, Biomedical Sciences
- 2019-Current: Professor, Queensland University of Technology, Faculty of Health
- 2016-Current: Founder/CSO EpiAxis Therapeutics
- 2010-Current: Visiting Fellow John Curtin School of Medical Research, ANU
Current Area of Research
The primary focus of our research group has been on epigenetics in the context of cancer diagnostics, therapy and T cell biology. Our lab has been focused on epigenetic regulation of T cell transcriptional responses, we have identified a novel nuclear role for traditional serine-threonine kinases and novel, nuclear roles for epigenetic enzymes & checkpoint inhibitors. The major goals are to develop liquid biopsy based (Blood) diagnostic biomarkers that can predict patient response to therapy and track progress of the patient with companion epigenetic based therapeutic drugs. We are using our epigenetic expertise to develop these new biomarkers and therapeutic targets to overcome resistance to therapy, target difficult to treat cancers with novel epigenetic drugs such as brain cancers. We have recently identified novel biomarkers and companion therapeutics for patient responsiveness to immunotherapy in the context of dysfunctional T-cells
The goal is to develop a treatment which is cost effective so care is available for every patient. New tests will allow oncologists to distinguish which patients are likely to respond to therapy, irrespective of the cancer type. Using epigenetics, the team are also developing the power to re-program immune cells to fight the cancer and rewire cancer cells.
We have already embarked on a Phase 1b clinical trial focusing on an epigenetic target in metastatic breast cancer, sponsored by EpiAxis Therapeutics. We have also embarked on multiple liquid biopsy based diagnostic studies with oncology departments nation-wide.
- 2020: Invited Editor, Epigenetic Therapy: The State of Play in Highly Aggressive Diseases
- 2015, CONCERT Member.
- 2017, Faces of Science, CSIRO
- 2016, VC Research Excellence award, UC.
- 2016, ASMR-ACT Scientist at the pub award.
- 2015, Woman to Watch Award 2015 (HerCanberra).
- 2014, Faces of Science, CSIRO
- 2013, Discovery Translation Fund, ANU Connect Ventures.
- 2012, Vice Chancellor’s Research Excellence Award for ECR, UC
- 2012, Vice Chancellor’s USS Teaching Excellence Award, UC
- 2012, Pre-development Partner appointed by Prof Grim, Head of Research Development, Agilent Technologies, USA, giving access to pre-development genomics/proteomics for cancer diagnostics; cancer stem cell glycomics project. Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Basal, Switzerland (2012);
- 2012 Post-doctoral fellowship award ($350,000, three years, 2012–2015), ANU
- 2000: PhD, University of London, Randall Institute, Kings College, UK.
- 1991: Bachelor of Science Degree (Honours), University of Keele, UK
Subsidiary: International Law & Politics